On Friday the Washington Post carried a good editorial about the latest “stimulus” bill to wend its way through Congress. This one allocates $10 billion to avoid teacher layoffs. The “stimulus” argument, of course, is that the teachers who would otherwise be laid off will now have money to spend, and their spending will stimulate the economy. That bogus argument has already been disproved by the utter failure of the earlier, larger stimulus to deliver the job creation that was promised. What’s more, that argument could be used to justify subsidizing every industry facing layoffs and using federal dollars to prop up every job. Has our country’s economic policy really reached that point?
The Post clearly is correct in characterizing this latest stimulus bill as a sop to teachers unions. The President and congressional Democrats want to leave a big polished apple on the teacher’s desk — and they hope to get campaign cash and votes in return.
The eye-popping statistic in the editorial is that, in the last school year, more than five percent of the funding for primary and secondary education jobs came from the federal government. The threshold question that people should be asking is: why is the federal government involved in funding local education in the first place? Education historically has been, and should remain, a local issue decided by the voters in municipalities and states. We should not be using federal dollars to prop up school districts that are overstaffed or underfunded due to the choices of the local voters in those districts.
No one wants to see anyone laid off, but it happens in every industry. Education should not be immune. Indeed, given the stories about teachers twiddling their thumbs in “rubber rooms” while drawing full paychecks, it seems likely that school districts have room to make cuts. If school administrators have to make tough choices because that is what local voters have decided, then they should make those tough decisions — without a toadying Congress throwing money their way.