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Reason Foundation

The Teacher Layoff Lie in California

Lisa Snell
May 26, 2011, 2:31pm

In California some teachers have been laid off and budgets are tight. However, in California education stakeholders continually hype and exaggerate the number of layoffs and do not distinguish between pinkslips and layoffs. Today the Associated Press turns it into a national story. "Schools Struggle to Recover Among Years of Cuts," reports among other whoppers that California has laid off more than 40,000 over the last three years.

The recession has cost the jobs of 30,000 California teachers and 10,000 support staff, education officials said.

"We're seeing the dismantling of what we used to enjoy as a solid comprehensive education," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Over at Intercepts, Mike Antonucci has the real story:

The union's state of emergency site claims the chairs "represent the 40,000 educators (30,000 teachers and 10,000 support professionals) who have been laid off over the past 3 years due to the state budget crisis." There is the additional claim that "More than 40,000 educators and support staff have been laid off in the past three years. This year, another 20,000 teachers could be lost."

I'm not even going to try to determine where CTA got its numbers. Its rhetoric clearly states that these are education employees who were laid off and did not return.

Here are the actual numbers from the California Department of Education's DataQuest:

2005-06
Number of teachers - 307,864
Number of classified staff - 285,501
Total - 593,365

2006-07
Number of teachers - 308,790
Number of classified staff - 287,613
Total - 596,403 (up 3,038)

2007-08
Number of teachers - 310,361
Number of classified staff - 294,202
Total - 604,563 (up 8,160)

2008-09
Number of teachers - 306,887
Number of classified staff - 303,607
Total - 610,494 (up 5,931)

2009-10
Number of teachers - 299,666
Number of classified staff - 300,734
Total - 600,400 (down 10,094)

There are no teacher numbers available for 2010-11 but the number of classified staff was reduced an additional 9,140.

You can worm your way to 40,000 if you assume 21,000 teachers were laid off in 2010-11. That would mean virtually every teacher who received a pink slip last year was laid off,something we know isn't true.

Regardless, there is no denying there are sizable layoffs of education staff going on in California. They seem a little less devastating and apocalyptic when you see they were preceded by adding more than 17,000 jobs over three years.

This of course calls into question all the data in the AP article in every state as the unions seem to be the number one source, which I'm sure the reporter did not verify with actual state data.


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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