Teacher Layoffs Adding Up

The Washington Post reports that the Detroit Public Schools are considering a plan that would close twenty three schools and lay off 600 teachers. The district has been struggling with declining enrollment for years as the population of Detroit continues to shrink. The hope is that the cuts, plus some $200 million in federal stimulus funds, will make the remaining schools better, safer, and more secure. Referring to the Michigan financial overseer in charge of the plan, the president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, Keith Johnson, said Bobb's plan appears to be a move in the right direction for the district's long-term health. "He's going to make sure teachers are equipped with the materials that they need," Johnson said. Town hall meetings are scheduled for the remainder of April, with a final decision on the plan scheduled for May 8.

The impending Detroit layoffs are just another beat in the drum roll of teacher reductions rolling across the country this spring. In Virginia the Roanoke Times reported on an impending teacher layoff amounting to an 8% reduction of staff, but with the possibility of more. Salem, Virginia schools are facing a $2 million budget deficit, and considering cutting salaries and freezing open teaching positions. As Superintendent of schools Alan Seibert wrote in an email, the cuts are designed to keep staff. "People make the difference in the lives of children, not things," he wrote.

In New York City, the city school system was looking at eliminating over 2,000 teaching positions while fighting for state money to avoid even more, according to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

Just last month in California, over 26,000 teachers were sent the traditional pink slips indicating they were actually or potentially laid off. This was on top of 5,000 lost teaching jobs the prior year. But the state government is hoping to avoid adding to the 26,000 teachers who got pink slips this spring. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the state has applied for nearly $5 billion dollars in federal stimulus money for California schools. Most of the money, if California receives it, will go to K-12 schools, and some teachers will see their jobs saved.

McClatchy reporrs that in South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford agreed last week to apply for federal stimulus funds, and his last-minute moves buys additional time for schools facing massive teacher layoffs and other spending cuts.

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