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School Districts Stall on Spending

Motown31/Wikimedia Commons

You might recall that last week President Obama signed an important piece of legislation, providing “urgent relief” to school districts across the country and enabling 160,000 teachers to “keep their jobs.” Or at least that’s what it was supposed to do, according to an August 10th post on The White House Blog.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

While the federal government has come through with $10 billion for U.S. schools to help supplement their depleted education budgets, some of the biggest school districts aren’t planning to use the money to actually hire teachers, according to an article in The New York Times.

The article states that some of the nation’s biggest school districts are planning to “preserve the funds” in order to prevent future layoffs. If they use the money now to hire or rehire teachers, they argue that it won’t last more than a year.

Teachers’ unions, on the other hand, are strongly urging districts to use the money now to keep class sizes manageable and provide kids with the best possible education this academic year. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is quoted as saying, “The intent is to help districts avert layoffs now. Kids don’t have a pause button.”

It’s tricky, that’s for sure. Should schools spend now to save jobs, rehire teachers, and keep class sizes manageable this year even though the future is uncertain? Or should they hold off on spending, likely compromising kids’ ability to learn in newly overcrowded classrooms?

I personally share Weingarten’s belief that kids don’t have a pause button. Read the article and let us know what you think.