Race to the Top 1, teachers' jobs 0?
While the announcement of the finalists of Race to the Top's second round takes up major education headlines this week, $10 billion of emergency aid to save teachers' jobs died quietly in the US Senate.
A few weeks ago, the US House of Representatives sent a war funding bill to the Senate with $10 billion tacked on to it to save approximately 140,000 teachers' jobs in deficit-ridden school districts across the country. Controversy was stirred when House Democrats, led by Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, proposed to pay for this emergency education aid by siphoning money away from President Obama's education reform initiatives, including RttT.
President Obama was able to revive funding for his education reform initiatives in the Senate, which ultimately reinstated money to Race to the Top, but hollowed the war funding bill of any money to stop teachers' layoffs.
"We cannot let the perfect get in the way of the good," reflected Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, who understood that Senate Republicans would not approve a war funding bill with such a large addition of domestic spending.
Senior House Democrats, however, remain firm that protecting teachers' jobs is a top priority for them leading up to the August recess. In a statement about how emergency education aid is critical to states, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "When we are talking about teachers, we are talking about the education of our children."
Democrats who want to protect vulnerable teachers' jobs will now have to find another legislative vehicle to pass this emergency education aid. What that vehicle will be, however, remains to be seen.