Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Senate Democrats Introduce the Keep Our Educators Working Act

Early last week Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) introduced SB 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act, an act that allocates $23 billion that was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 specifically to save the jobs of teachers who would ordinarily face lay-offs in light of the downstream downturn in state revenues as a result of the Great Recession of 2007-09.

I noted this with bittersweet feelings as thousands of my colleagues statewide are getting laid off, or in the present parlance of the day: RIF’ed.

“Too late,” I said to myself.

What was once a safe and secure profession, what once was a profession where an employee would not have to spend endless hours justifying their existence, is now not so safe, and self-justification is the rule, not the exception.

And then I realized that it didn’t matter anyway. Too late or not, not one penny of that $23 billion will make it to Texas. Our Teabagger governor, Rick Perry, will see to that.

I realized this when I read the bill. You can read it too. It’s here.

Because, you see, it gives the governor of each state the right to refuse these funds.

This happened before when Perry turned down $700 million in federal “Race to the Top” funds because he said it gave Washington too much say in how we educate our children in Texas. Instead, we leave that to rightwing evangelical young Earth creationists on our state school board.

Said Perry back then:

“Our states and our communities must reserve the right to decide how we educate our children and not surrender that control to a federal bureaucracy.”

The deal is sealed in this case because the bill slams the door on a fiscal practice of channeling funds meant for one thing into the “rainy day fund.”

This is in the bill:

“Subject to subparagraph (B), a State that receives an allocation of funds appropriated under this Act may not use such funds to establish, restore, or supplement a reserve or rainy day fund of the State or to supplant State funds in a manner that has the effect of establishing, restoring, or supplementing a reserve or rainy day fund”

So in accepting the money, the governor must use it to pay teachers, and retain them. Teachers are by and large not included in Rick Perry’s base, so there is no political upside for Perry in using the federal funds for what they were meant to be used for.

So no, this money is not for us, either. Teachers will continue to be laid off, class sizes will continue to grow, and educational quality will continue to suffer as experienced teachers are culled.

So really, full recovery from this economic crisis will not come to Texas anytime soon. Not until we replace Rick Perry with Bill White.

The stakes are huge, and getting rid of Rick Perry has become more of a moral imperative. Ironic isn’t it? This midterm election is going to affect Texas as much as the rest of the country was affected by the ’08 election.


Anonymous said...

So what other professions shouldn't have to worry about keeping there jobs when the economy turns bad?

Hal said...



Emergency Medical Technicians?