The nation’s schools shed 24,000 jobs in September, continuing a troubling and accelerating trend, according to today’s Labor Department jobs report.
In the last three years, schools have cut 278,000 jobs, with over 40 percent of the job cuts occurring in the last year.
These job losses are one consequence of large declines in state funding for K-12 education. As we reported yesterday, elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding than last year in at least 37 states, after adjusting for inflation. In at least 30 states, school funding now stands below 2008 levels — often far below. In the long term, these cuts will reduce student achievement and the economy’s potential.
Major job losses are occurring in other areas of state and local government, as well. State and local employment has shrunk by 646,000 jobs since peaking in August 2008, including 35,000 jobs last month. Besides teachers, this sector includes police, firefighters, courtroom secretaries, aides for the severely disabled and their families, and many others whose work the private sector is unlikely to replace, even when the economy improves.
Federal action is needed to help protect the country from the damage that these cuts are causing. The President has proposed emergency aid that would enable schools to rehire or avoid laying off thousands of teachers and other education workers. That’s a good idea for the economy, and for the country’s future.