Despite all the negative ads saying Charles Djou voted against funding for schools, we know that actually no Hawaii schools were ever in danger of closing, nor were any teacher jobs at risk. Consider the following from the Washington Post's editorial board. They call this bailout for states a "boondoggle" and that "With schools in session, it's even clearer now than it was then that the numbers were exaggerated and that the measure was in no small part intended to motivate the powerful teachers unions for this fall's midterm elections."
Here is the full editorial:
Friday, October 8, 2010
So urgent was the supposed need for Congress to forestall a catastrophic loss of teacher jobs that the House was called back from its summer recess and money looted from the food stamp program. That money is now flowing to the states, but since, for many, the crisis was less dramatic than had been described, local school districts are now looking for creative ways to use the money. Let's hope that they are smarter than those who engineered this boondoggle and that they do not waste taxpayer dollars on programs that can't be sustained or policies that don't work.
Congress, egged on by its Democratic leaders and the Obama administration, approved $10 billion in new education spending, ostensibly to save hundreds of thousands of imperiled teacher jobs. With schools in session, it's even clearer now than it was then that the numbers were exaggerated and that the measure was in no small part intended to motivate the powerful teachers unions for this fall's midterm elections.
What then to do with the EduJobs money? School officials in Fairfax County are wrestling with that question amid mounting pressure from teacher representatives to use the funds for a pay raise. Salaries have been frozen for two years, but board members would be foolish to use these one-time funds for a pay raise that will be baked into all future budgets. What happens when not only this money goes away but so does the rest of the federal stimulus funding?
Indeed, it's that worry about the future that has prompted Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) -- wisely, to our mind -- to sock away most of the money for future education needs. In a letter to the state's local school superintendents, Mr. O'Malley explained that 20 percent of the $179 million allocated to Maryland would be used to increase 2011 appropriations for local systems while 80 percent would be substituted for previously appropriated general funds. That subsequent general fund savings would be set aside for 2012 education expenses in an arrangement state officials say meets federal requirements.
Another useful idea was suggested by education reformers when Congress was debating the bill: Use the money to drive change. States that are considering increased compensation for teachers should insist on changes in personnel policies that now require the last hired to be the first fired. Alternatively, they could use the money to reward teachers who work in schools with the biggest challenges. Just because national leaders lacked the spine to put this money to the best use doesn't mean local leaders can't show the way.