It’s spring—and along with the daffodils come layoff notices to thousands and thousand of teachers across the country. Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan, is no exception. Over 190 teachers in the Ann Arbor public school system just received layoff notices, says AnnArbor.com. These are all the untenured teachers in the district, a friend who teaches here told me. Ann Arbor joins thousands of school districts around the nation that are facing huge projected budget shortfalls.
Over 20,000 teachers in California and 15,000 in New York are in jeopardy. In total, over 300,000 teachers may soon join the ranks of the unemployed in America, according to estimates reported in the New York Times.
“We absolutely see this as an emergency,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, quoted in the Times. This is a “perfect storm” in public education—a rare confluence of events that spell catastrophe. What elements are converging? One is the horrible economy, the main driver of the impending education cuts. The other is apathy. I don’t see many calls to action, any organized protest movements, no mass marches on Capitol Hill. Sure, there are some public protests, but not anywhere near the scale needed to make a difference. The third factor is this: Our education system wasn’t producing great results before the recession and the cuts.
As we’ll see this week, recent studies show that the persistent disparities in educational outcomes for whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. That’s the perfect storm: recession + apathy + a system that was already deficient.
What’s it like in your community? What kinds of cuts are looming? Any organized protests?
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