By now, the pattern is impossible to ignore: More than 30,000 teachers in California received layoff warnings last spring; another 300 prepared for unemployment in Milwaukee; in Chicago, 1,000 more were looking for work, and by the time school started in September some 60,000 teachers across the country had lost their jobs.
Certain ramifications are obvious: Fewer teachers equals larger classes and less attention devoted to each student, even as the demand for improved outcomes mounts.
Some of the less apparent results of school layoffs could be at least as damaging. Thousands of jobless teachers – and their kids — no longer have health insurance. Many are in their 30s and 40s, traditionally the prime years for earning money toward retirement. But not now.
“In my 20 years in education, I have never seen the devaluation of education as I have recently,” said Lloyd Verstuyft, superintendent of Texas’s Southwest Independent School District.
“You can’t cut $4 billion from public education and not feel it. Schools are not only places of teaching and learning, they are a place of support. That is being chipped away now, and it will have consequences.”
“The public has to make clear that they expect schools to be funded,” she said. “If we ever expect to get into a better economic climate, education is not what we can cut and get there. Education needs to be looked at for what it is – the driver of everything that we’re trying to do as a nation.”
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