Today, the Senate will be taking a procedural vote on a bill providing $26 billion in aid to state and local governments, $10 billion of which is dedicated to preventing teacher layoffs. This particular batch of funding has been included in, and then cut from, multiple bills, as each time conservatives have objected. Originally, $23 billion was to go toward saving teaching jobs, but that has been whittled down over the past few months.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has derided the funding as a “bailout” for teachers, while Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that those advocating for the money have misplaced priorities. The bill also includes $16 billion in Medicaid funding for states, and Republicans “argue that the Medicaid funding would have a better chance of passage without the teachers aid included.”
But with nearly every state in the country facing a budget crunch, and massive cuts to education funding already having occurred, this money is critical to preserve jobs and keep classroom size to a semi-reasonable level. Democrats will need at least one Republican vote — and possibly two, since Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is non-committal on the bill — to move the funding forward, but so far no GOP votes have materialized. So here are eleven Republican senators whose states are facing at least 2,000 teacher layoffs for the 2010 school year, and therefore should be especially supportive of the funding:
More than 5,000 Layoffs2,000–5,000 LayoffsSen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK)Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN)Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL)Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL)Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
As Sean at LearnBoost pointed out, every state in the country is facing a teacher shortage in at least one subject area, and five (Arizona, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Maryland) “desperately need teachers of any subject in some cities and counties.” “Politicians and administrators are behaving as if good teachers are as expendable as the pink slips they’ve been placing on their desks,” he wrote.
The funding that the Senate will be voting on will save about 138,000 jobs and one of the offsets (to make the bill deficit neutral) is the closing of some corporate tax loopholes. So this is a simple choice between saving jobs while ending abuse of the tax code, or allowing the Great Recession to continue to wreak havoc with the education system.