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Zero Job Growth Is No Surprise to Parents

Percent Job Losses in Post-WWII Recessions (via Calculated Risk)

The Markets and the Financial Media were stunned by the August Jobs report, which said there were no net jobs created in August. Whatever gains there have been in certain sectors of private industry, every parent in the country with school-age kids can tell you how a sizable chunk 0f those gains were erased.

Cuts to school budgets.

Consider, for example, the situation in and around Pittsburgh:

As school starts across the region, the full impact of the approximately $1 billion in state cuts to education funding is becoming apparent.

Students may find more faces of their peers in classes and fewer faces of the adults — teachers, teachers aides, custodians and administrators — who have been furloughed. . .

The Seneca Valley School District, with 7,300 students in southern Butler County, will start the year with 69 fewer employees.

At the elementary level, that means music, art and physical education classes that previously were held twice every six days will be held once every five days, said Jeffrey Fuller, assistant superintendent overseeing elementary grades. . . .

“We had about 21 students per class but with the new numbers it will be about 24 students per class,” Mr. Fuller said, “but that number may skewer upward to 27-30 in the higher grades.” . . .

The Pittsburgh Public Schools eliminated 23 paraprofessionals on Wednesday in a group of 30 employees who were furloughed. That action followed the elimination of 59 employees last month, including 31 teachers, and a cut of 217 positions in June among central office and operational support staff.

The district has made a number of cuts that include eliminating its teacher academy and announced plans to close seven schools.

Or look at Houston:

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in the state. HISD lost 500 teachers after final layoffs. In HISD, principals made the final decisions on how budget cuts would affect their schools.

Cy-Fair Independent School District leaders said their district did not have massive teacher layoffs, but it didn’t fill hundreds of vacant teaching positions.

Katy ISD starts the year with 53 fewer teachers after it was able to rehire more than 200 teachers originally let go earlier this year.

The end result of layoffs for many school districts is more students in classrooms. Teachers and principals said they’re expecting anywhere from a handful more students per class to as many as 10 extra students per class compared to last year. . .

Along with fewer teachers, HISD said parents and students should plan on fewer “extras” they have relied on inside schools in the past.

“You might show up to school and you had two librarians last year; now you have one,” said Jason Spencer, a spokesman for HISD.

Along with fewer “extras,” Spencer said some school-sponsored class field trips will be canceled. Teachers and principals said there will be fewer special education aides and after-school tutors. Some tutoring programs will be eliminated altogether.

Or San Antonio:

The biggest change is the elimination of about 2,400 jobs, or about 5 percent of the total public school workforce in Bexar County, according to a recent San Antonio Express-News analysis.

Most job losses will not result in layoffs because districts eliminated unfilled positions and froze hiring. Districts also cut programs to reduce the need for staffing and assigned more duties to employees.

Maybe part of this is due to Rick Perry’s awesomeness as a fiscal wizard. “The cuts are still unprecedented. It’s the first time since 1949, when Texas implemented its modern school finance system, that the state has decreased funding for education.”

Yeah, that might have something to do with this.

Then there’s New York . . . :

Nearly 780 employees of the New York City Education Department will lose their jobs by October, in the largest layoff at a single agency since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002.

. . . and North Carolina:

North Carolina public schools laid off 847 teachers among 2,681 jobs cut as they headed into this academic year, the state Department of Public Instruction reported Wednesday.The layoffs came on top of hundreds of education-related cuts in the academic year that ended in June. The survey of the state’s 115 school districts found that last year 609 teachers and 1,211 total schoolhouse jobs were cut.

And if this isn’t bad enough, the future doesn’t look much brighter . . .

The reductions are likely to accelerate in 2012, when $400 million in “EduJobs” federal funding for school jobs ends. Layoffs would have been worse this year without those federal dollars, which cover more than 4,000 jobs in North Carolina.

Scarecrow nailed it with his title: Deficit Hysteria Wins. Pick a district, any district, and you’ll see what deficit hysteria has accomplished. Anyone who is surprised by the jobs report should go sit down with their local school superintendent, or talk to any parents.

Serious business leaders know that poor schools today means less qualified workers tomorrow. Local chambers of commerce get it, like this one, but if you expect the US Chamber of Commerce to come out in favor of more actual spending for school districts . . . well, I’ve got an abandoned school building to sell you.

Chart h/t to Bill McBride at Calculated Risk — one of the best places to see economic data (especially housing and employment data) laid out in a most helpful manner. Best of all, Bill’s happy to share his charts with anyone, as long as they give him credit and a link. For charts like these, I’m more than happy to do so.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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