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500,000 Jobs Gone in April… But the Worst is Yet to Come

June 4, 2020

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Chalkbeat writer Matt Barnum reports that public schools lost 500,000 jobs in April, jobs that constituted “only” 6% of the workforce and jobs that were mostly linked to the closure of schools as opposed to the delivery of instruction. Indeed, Barnum notes that very few teachers were laid off when schools closed. Most of the cuts were to janitorial staff, instructional assistants who provided support services to teachers, and some counselors who were presumably unable to provide services online.

But his article is full of ominous economic forecasts that see a marked decline in revenue going forward, a decline that will require layoffs of even more staff and that, in turn, will result in a decline in student performance.

A total of 300,000 public education jobs had disappeared years after the onset of the last recession. Research found students saw declines in test scores as a result of school funding cuts over that period as well.

Economists are also concerned that job losses could further drag down the economy.

“Without sufficient staffing, we cannot safely reopen schools and get parents back to work — which will in turn hamper economic recovery,” Gould said.

From my perspective the best way forward is to overhaul schools as I described in my op ed that I posted here recently: offer face-to-face daily instruction to K-6 students, hybrid instruction on site for 7-10 students, and periodic seminars thereafter. This COULD save money if the schools were closed on Friday for K-6 students and fewer teachers were assigned to secondary students… and while such a change would be daunting if it could be done INTENTIONALLY it could result in even better results for children, parents and our culture.

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