Opinion
Early Childhood Opinion

Edujobs, Fiscal Relief, Child Care, and Distribution

By Sara Mead — August 16, 2010 2 min read

Lots of folks in the edublogosphere have been debating the merits of the recently passed “Edujobs” legislation, and the extent to which it will actually save educator jobs. Ed Money Watch is an informative source of coverage here, and should be going forward. Rick Hess really doesn’t like this legislation; I tend to agree more with Chad Aldeman‘s take that federal support for state and local budgets makes sense in a still-struggling economy.

But as we consider Edujobs, don’t let’s forget that K-12 public education isn’t the only area of education suffering from significant state budget cuts now. Just in the past week, we’ve seen news of 2,500 families cut from subsidies in Washington State and 11,000 families in Oregon. What’s this going to do the school readiness and longer-term educational outcomes of these children? What is it going to do to the ability of these children’s parents to hold or obtain employment? What’s it going to do to the jobs of educators in childcare and preschool settings? Child care programs received a significant funding bump--the first in a very long time--in ARRA, but the impact of those federal funds has been largely swamped by state spending cuts. I talked recently with a local childcare administrator who told me about how painful the cuts her city has to make have been. And, thanks to the economy, more families than ever are falling below the income eligibility thresholds for childcare programs--or would be if states didn’t keep lowering them as part of their budget cuts. It’s frustrating that we can have a whole debate about spending federal $ to bail out K-12 public schools and saving teacher jobs without really talking about the impact of state budget cuts on the youngest children and their teachers--whose jobs Edujobs isn’t going to protect.

I also wish people would talk/ask a bit more about distributive impacts here. As David Leonhardt noted in the NYT last week, the Great Recession has not hit all Americans equally: Workers with college degrees are faring much better than those without: the unemployment rate for college-educated workers is 4.5%, compared to double-digit rates for less-educated workers. Given this disparity, does it really make sense for a major federal jobs effort to focus on teachers--virtually all of who are college-educated--rather than less-educated workers who face less favorable employment prospects?

The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.