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K-12 Education Will Suffer Mightily If SOME Kind of Stimulus Package is Not Passed

October 7, 2020

Today’s NYTimes headline story reports that the President has decided to stop all negotiations on a pandemic relief package until after the election. One of the rationales for doing so is to buttress his contention that the economy is on the rebound… a contention supported by the “fact” that the jobless rate has declined over the past several months. That IS true, but as Economic Policy Institute (EPI) writer Elis Gould reports, at the current rate of “growth” it will take a long time for the economy to return to pre-pandemic levels:

The first dose of austerity exhibited by the loss to the vital enhanced unemployment insurance benefit in August is already taking a toll on job creation. At this pace of slowing job growth, it will take years to return to the pre-pandemic labor market.

So it IS true that the number of jobs increased in September, but that increase was a marked decline from previous months and, more ominously, is a foreshadowing of losses in the public sector that will likely devastate the economy without some kind of federal intervention. Worse, for those who read this column, it spells serious problems for K-12 education! 

It is a simple fact that the labor market damage would be significantly lessened by vital public health investments and economic relief for today’s workforce as well as state and local governments. There were large losses in the public sector in September, not only because of the decrease of temporary Census workers, but more acutely because of thelosses in local K-12 education. Education employment was already suffering prior to the current economy crises. School systems need more, not fewer, resources in these challenging times.

Policymakers must act if there’s any hope for a swifter and more broad-based recovery.

This was advice offered before Jerome Powell weighed in. The NYTimes article suggests that the POTUS does not believe there are sufficient votes in the GOP controlled Senate to pass a package… but with any luck in November a new Senate will be seated, one that might be more focussed on the health of the economy than the retention of their political power. One that might be more interested in the well-being of children who are currently underserved by schools and social services than the shareholders. 

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