At a Senate hearing Wednesday, April 14 on the Department of Education’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011, Secretary Arne Duncan began his remarks by drawing senators’ attention to a looming financial shortfall that states and local school districts face, even as the U.S. economy recovers. “We are gravely concerned that the kind of state and local budget threats our schools face today will put our hard-earned reforms at risk,” Duncan told the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees ED’s budget. “Every day brings media reports of layoffs, program cuts, class time reductions and class size increases.”
Although there are no firm estimates, some forecasts say that between 100,000 and 300,000 education jobs are at risk. That many layoffs “not only [create] hardships for educators who lose their jobs and the children they teach, but the damage ripples through the economy as a whole,” Duncan said. “Literally tens of millions of students will experience these budget cuts in one way or another. Moreover, schools, districts and states that are working so hard to improve—will see their reforms undermined by these budget problems.”
Duncan urged the subcommittee to consider another round of emergency support for America’s schools, similar to the aid provided to states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during the ’08-’09 and ’09-’10 school years.
“If we do not help avert this state and local budget crisis,” he warned, “we could impede reform and fail another generation of children.”