I just heard today that the money will be spent primarily to fund existing pension and retirement funds, not the touted new or retained jobs. I was just wondering about this very thing, as I did the math last week and it was something like $160,000 per job based on the money designated and the number of jobs saved. Surprise, surprise.
What I'm hearing is that those of us in Tennessee probably won't see any of that "teacher" money because we already have the Race to the Top money--even though that is not supposed to be used for teacher salaries. So I'm not holding my breath. I want to know where that money is coming from. I have always felt uncomfortable about the fact that my salary comes from other people's taxes. I just don't see how people can pay more than they already do.
Honestly, I asked for opinions because I suspect that this is just another ploy by the feds to generate a slush fund. I think it will have a hefty chunk for the teachers' unions, but after that, it will be available for the state and local politicians to line their pockets with, or fund some other, non-teacher-related project.
I've noticed that every time the government needs to pay off an influential lobbying group or generate some pork, it comes out with the "we're going to have to cut jobs for police officers, fire fighters and teachers." They do this as a scare tactic for citizens who aren't thinking, "Gee, don't you think that if a city or state needed to cut funds, there's a lot of places it can cut BEFORE hitting the essential functions of law enforcement, public safety, or education?"
Illinois is in the same boat. It seems that any money that comes in goes directly towards school improvements, not to the teachers or retaining teachers. If the money is used to prevent any more teachers from losing their jobs then I hope that is really what it is going to be used for. I have known so many teachers who have lost their jobs and I know many more new teachers who can't even find a job.
I would like to think so, but I am losing faith in government. Here in Kentucky, we have a KY Teachers Retirement Fund and are not in the Social Security System. However, some time ago, governors of our state started pulling the antics of the Federal government and began borrowing millions of dollars each year from the fund to spend elsewhere. The state of KY currently owes over 5 million dollars to the teacher retirement fund, and as a result, they have decided to take more money from active teachers' paychecks to fund the retirees healthcare which up to this year was free for retirees. Beginning this year, retirees will also begin paying something each month starting at $38/month and increasing over six years to $200/month with the rest coming from active teachers' pay deductions.
It would be nice if, when funding is given, fifteen groups didn't spend it on paper and then have to rob Peter to pay Paul to cover the original funding purpose.
My guess is that the money mandated for schools by Obama will go mostly to inner city schools where they deem the need is greatest.
I have my doubts. Here in Missouri, even when money comes in to education from a new source, education money overall is reduced. This is how casino gambling managed to get passed on the fourth or fifth try, years ago--"The money will go to education." Well, some didm but then the total was reduced so the net amount was the same. And yet the selling job was so good that you will hear people state that gambling here benefits the schools.
I must cynically admit that I doubt many teachers will benefit from the new bill. Our district's spokesperson already said that we made the teacher/staff cuts last year; so there are not jobs to be saved for this school year--he said that possibly the money could help for the 2011-2012 school year--what?!!!!!
My other reason for being so skeptical is that the first stimulus package that was passed over a year ago was touted as saving (or creating) teacher and other public service jobs. Yet, this summer, my state couldn't afford to send any new state trooper recruits to their academy training, and at my school alone, we've lost 10 teaching positions over the past two years. I did see the stimulus money at work in my school, however, when men from an outside company came in to replace a perfectly good light system last spring. We were told that that money could not be used for teacher jobs--it was allocated elsewhere. I also saw stimulus money on my way to work today as sidewalks were being built on a road that no one would care to walk on. Oh, and yes, the company doing the work on the sidewalk was an out-of-state one!
An article in the New Jersey papers states that Gov. Christie and his team are applying for $268 million of the federal funding. The article also states that the money is strictly for human resources, not technology, building maintenance, etc. The catch is that there have been no statements on how the state would, if it receives the money, distribute the funds among school districts. Plus, Christie has reservations about receiving money from the federal government that will not be replaced. I guess it's better if my colleagues who have been laid off starve rather than receive any relief that is offered. . .
As I understand it, the money is to be used for preserving existing positions, as opposed to teacher raises and new positions. Many states, mine included, were facing some severe further cuts if no new money was forthcoming. Many budgets have already been gleaned of all the "extra" spending that would not eliminate actual teacher jobs, so now they are faced with keeping them or getting rid of some, with direct impacts on the classroom.
Here's how the process should work:
The federal Education Department will administer the national school jobs fund. It will review applications, and within 45 days of approval provide money to states based on formulas involving population and school-age population.
States will then distribute money to local school districts, with allocations based on various funding formulas. If a governor doesn't submit what Washington calls an "approvable application," the secretary of education can bypass the state government and make the local grants himself.
This information is actually taken from the Miami Herald website. Here's the link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/10/1770123/states-to-receive-26-billion-in.html
It seems like it all depends on whether our governors/secretaries of education take action. Of course, this money is meant to offset what has already been taken from education, & prevent future lay-offs. For example, in California where I teach, we've already lost $17 billion through education cuts in the past 2 years. So, I'm not likely to see a raise. But my job, and those of my colleagues, may be saved through this bill. I for one am happy to see this passed, and in a way that actually reduces the deficit rather than adding to it (although I don't think cutting food stamp programs was the way to do that). Overall, I'm glad to know that in a state that has already seen 30,000 teachers let go over the past 2 years, we can save some (hopefully many) from future layoffs. But maybe that's just wishful thinking.......
If Florida's school boards have any say in the matter, the answer will probably be NO! Teacher raises are practically a thing of the past here, and the money that is allocated goes to other educational expenses--building construction, renovations, new technology, etc. The kids should come first, of course, but Florida's teachers are pretty well versed on who rests on the bottom of the spending list.