Government Spending

Billions to Bail Out Education! Again.


the only profession where people advertise getting fired

Threatening to fire teachers has become the national pastime of America's politicians. Well, that and heroically saving those same teachers' jobs with emergency appropriations.

Just over a year ago, the stimulus bill flew though Washington and then started trickling money out to the states. One of the more popular justifications for the bill was that states with pinched budgets would have to fire teachers if nothing was done. The stimulus bill included about $100 billion in education funds, most of which went directly to pay for the salary, benefits, and pensions of school personnel.

But now, in a development that exactly everyone could have foreseen, that money is running out. And since the massive infusion of cash saved states from having to make tough decisions about the budget, we are exactly where we were at the beginning of 2009. The cry goes 'round the room: Teacher firings are upon us!

So Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wants to do it all over again, with a plan to spend $23 billion to preserve teaching positions.

But threats of teacher firings are a red herring, and have been for a long time. The reason states budget are in crisis isn't because modest and responsible efforts by state legislators to retain basic services are failing in a time of crisis. It's because—as Reason noted in a cover story last May—states are still paying the bills on their spending binge during flusher times:

In the five years between 2002 and 2007, combined state general-fund revenue increased twice as fast as the rate of inflation, producing an excess $600 billion. If legislatures had chosen to be responsible, they could have maintained all current state services, increased spending to compensate for inflation and population growth, and still enacted a $500 billion tax cut.

Instead, lawmakers spent the windfall. From 2002 to 2007, overall spending rose 50 percent faster than inflation. Education spending increased almost 70 percent faster than inflation, even though the relative school-age population was falling. Medicaid and salaries for state workers rose almost twice as fast as inflation.

Teachers aren't like whales. They don't stay saved. You have to keep saving them over and over again. And when Harkin's billions run out, we'll be right back where we started.


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  1. Dear Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa),

    Please go kill yourself.


  2. This is a better idea:

    The city and the teachers’ union have worked out a deal to stop putting hundreds of teachers waiting for disciplinary hearings in “rubber rooms” and will close the centers this fall, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.

    Officially known as teacher-reassignment centers, the so-called rubber rooms are off-campus spaces where hundreds of teachers are paid their full salaries to do nothing while they await disciplinary hearings.

    Two people familiar with the decision said Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and the teachers’ union were to announce the deal later Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made.

    More than 600 teachers generally spend months or even years in the rubber rooms playing Scrabble, reading or surfing the Internet. The nickname refers to the padded cells of asylums, and teachers have said the name is fitting, since some of the inhabitants can become unstable.…..&tsp=1

    1. The city and the teachers’ union have worked out a deal to stop putting hundreds of teachers waiting for disciplinary hearings in “rubber rooms” and will close the centers this fall,

      So what happens to the teachers?

      (a) They go straight back into the classroom.

      (b) They get fired.

      (c) They get paid vacations of indefinite duration.

      I can’t think of any other alternatives.

  3. Teachers aren’t like whales.

    You can’t even get oil out of teachers. Fuck them.

    1. But you can get quite a bit of smug. If only we could develop that latent energy source we could have enough power forever.

    2. Actually you can as long as their health insurance covers liposuction (which it will soon, if not already). Ever see Fight Club?

      1. Tonight we make soap.

        1. Let me see your hand.

          1. Do not feed the troll.

            Thank you.

      2. Always seemed to me like teachers were one of the fattest professions.

        1. Apparently you have not seen your average dietitian.

          1. Yeah every dietician I’ve met has been fat. And not really in an apple shape, they are all pears. Massive hips and thighs. ‘sup with that?

            1. Most Dieticians I’ve met where either white or Indian woman and old. Never knew one that was fat.

  4. Pretty scary stuff dude. These kids are our future and education should be top priority.


    1. If they are “our” future, why would we subject them to the perils of public education?

      1. …and destroy their future incomes with entitlements, safety nets, pointless wars, and other unsustainable policies? Between being dumbasses and having no money to save, my kids are FUCKED.

      2. Children shouldn’t be educated?

  5. Teachers aren’t like whales.

    You didn’t see my fourth grade teacher. She was so fat she went to a concert and when she started dancing the BAND skipped.

  6. So, wait, are the whales saving themselves now? That’s awesome! I, for one, salute our new cetacean overloards.

  7. It’s “pink-slipped,” Miss Emoticon, unless that’s a headline about Pink escaping your dungeon.


    1. Damn. Clearly I am not the fastest copy editor in the West.

  8. Shouldn’t that be “Pink-Slipped Teacher”? Though, that’s still ambiguous as to whether she’s (he’s?) wearing a slip that is pink.

    1. At the risk of offending, I’ll observe there’s at least one other interpretation that adds to the ambiguity.

      1. Pink Slipped

        Maybe she has a prolapsed vagina.

    2. I figured she (he?) was just fishing for a date.

  9. Maybe the sign means that a pop singer did something untoward to the teacher?

  10. Education is too important to be left to the government. Like all socialized endeavors, government education is terribly inefficient.

    I have an 8 year old grandson who tested last year at the 6th grade level in math. This year, he is studying algebra – at home. Do you know of any 2nd or 3rd grade classes in algebra? How about calculus for 4th grade?

    1. That’s great, but it’s not going to mean much if he’s got the personality of the Feral Kid.

    2. No.

      Nor is there a cure for “my grandkids are Einstein”-ism. Except for a visit from the guy who took over Kervorkian’s practice.

      1. The point is well taken. There’s not much room in public schools for exceptional students. They are focused on getting everyone up to a minimum level of information absorption. Those who are already at that level don’t get a ton of attention.

    3. Is he good at throwing a boomerang?

      1. With the personality of the Feral Kid and math skills, he can go far in Engineering or Computer Science, sage.

        1. And after graduation, he can afford to pay women(hookers) to have sex with him despite his feral personality. One broken condom, and the circle of life is complete. Rinse, repeat.

    4. Do you know of any 2nd or 3rd grade classes in algebra? How about calculus for 4th grade?

      When I went to public school, in 3rd grade I went over to the 6th grade classroom for algebra. I didn’t take calculus until the 8th grade, though, when I went over to the high school on the other side of the road.

      The public school system provided me with a tutor in many of the other years, since I was past grade level in math. Some years it was mostly sitting by myself and a couple other students while learning the subject, like when I did multivariable calculus in 10th grade.

    5. Education systems in Asia and Europe that are largely controlled by the government are more efficient and produced better students.

  11. now, these politicians are the experts and i think we should defer to their wisdom.

    1. Incomplete. Go sit in the corner.

  12. Notice how the cry is never “Oh no, we’ll have to lay off school administrators!”?

    1. Ain’t that the truth!

  13. Last 5 years of binge spending? Well it’s good to know that Reason is aware that this too is all Bush’s fault 😉

  14. One of the more popular justifications for the bill was that states with pinched budgets would have to fire teachers if nothing was done.

    Doing something is not an option.

  15. Ok let me get this straight, since the schools made bad choices and didn’t budget their money correctly they don’t deserve the bailout money. What about the auto industry, wall street, and the big banks?? Did they make bad decisions?? I think so!! Did they get a bailout?? YES!! to the tune of $700 billion. They didn’t plan well and budget their money either so why do they get a bailout and not the kids.

    Another thing to note is, at least in CA not sure about everywhere else, school districts are required by law to keep a certain amount of revenue as surplus for times like these or they face penalties. Well, these funds have been depleated in a lot of school districts in order to save teachers and other programs.

    I also fail to see how it is that schools went on a ‘spending binge’ when there are schools in the LA area where there are 40+ kids in a classroom and 20 desks. Could it be that education has always been underfunded and the recession has made it just that much worse? Education is always one of the first to receive cuts when there are problems with state and federal budgets, but lets make sure all the criminals get their cable tv, workout rooms, and health care while they are in jail. Way to set your priorities CA.

  16. It’s time for tenure to go and keep the best. Then we’ll start to see change in our students.

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