The latest dismal job figures, in an indirect way, demonstrate the grand failure of the current so-called school reform which is based largely on austerity, rather than real, substantial school improvement. While there is continued job growth in the private sector, particularly in manufacturing, public sector jobs are disappearing by the hundreds of thousands.
While they didn't cause the crisis, President Obama and Ed Sec. Arne Duncan have joined hands with teacher bashing conservatives in trying to balance the budget on the backs of teachers and other public-service workers. They have managed to frame the debate as being between which teachers, older or younger, should be riffed first. Unfortunately, teacher union leaders have gone along with this narrative and have even, to some degree, accepted student test scores as the means to decide who goes first.
Obama helped set the tone when he lauded the mass firings of teachers at Central Falls, H.S. in Rhode Island. Now 16 months later, the chickens are coming home to roost.
Women bear the brunt
Women are bearing the brunt of the austerity reform. According to Bloomberg Businessweek report: "With females in the majority at jobs such as teaching and health care, cutbacks and limits on collective bargaining will fall disproportionately on them."
Some of the biggest hits are in public education. Women made up about 76 percent of teachers in the 2007-08 school year, the latest available figures from the Education Dept. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has cut school aid by $1.3 billion since taking office in January 2010. Eighty percent of the state's districts reported teacher reductions this school year, says Frank Belluscio, a spokesman at the New Jersey School Boards Assn. Ohio Governor John Kasich's spending plan would cut 7,000 teachers over two years, says Innovation Ohio, which lobbies for the poor and middle class. Government is "taking a wrecking ball to what have traditionally been female-dominated professions," says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.