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The Fordham Institute’s education analyst Chris Tessone noted: “There is no reason to expect anything but business as usual from another round of subsidies. … More subsidies just protect the status quo at great expense to taxpayers.”
While strapped, reckless-spending school districts bemoan the edge of the federal “funding cliff,” another chunk of the EduJobs money went to states that didn’t even need it — and had kept their teacher payrolls full through responsible fiscal stewardship. As education journalist Chris Moody reported last summer, states including North Dakota, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alaska whose budgets are in the black received tens of millions in superfluous school subsidies. “Arkansas,” Moody found, “has a fully funded teaching staff for the coming year, but the state will still receive up to $91 million for teaching jobs.”
In Alaska, school districts had already made hiring decisions for teachers and apportioned the children in each class based upon those numbers. Nevertheless, to fulfill their teachers union-pandering mission, Obama showered the state with $24 million under the bill — money that a state education bureaucrat acknowledged “probably would not go to adding new teachers.”
Other states, such as Illinois and West Virginia, raked in hundreds of millions more in EduJobs dough even though they hadn’t yet burned through 2009 education stimulus money. In fact, a total of 20 states and the District of Columbia have spent less than 5 percent of their allotments, according to Education Week magazine.
An Obama education official helpfully suggested that the unneeded money be spent on “on-campus therapists” instead.
Many other school districts failed to heed warnings against binging on full-time hiring sprees with temporary funding. Education Week reported this spring that the New Hanover County (N.C.) school district used $4.8 million in short-term EduJobs money to fund 88 teaching positions, in addition to more than 100 classroom slots funded with 2009 stimulus tax dollars. Obama and the Democrats blame meanie Republicans for the fiscal emergencies these districts now face.
But who devoured the Beltway candy instead of eating their peas? Washington rewards bloated school pensions, Taj Mahal construction outlays and chronic local education budget shortfalls by pouring more money down their sinkholes. Instead of incentivizing fixes, politicians — dependent on teachers union campaign contributions and human shield photo-ops — incentivize more failure.
The solution to this vicious cycle of profligacy? It’s elementary: Try something else.
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