If federal policymakers do nothing to address the massive and unprecedented declines in state and local revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation stands to lose 1.89 million education jobs over the next three years, according to a new analysis by the National Education Association (NEA).
According to the NEA analysis:
No community would go unaffected. But the looming cuts will disproportionately affect students of color, who are more likely to attend schools that rely on federal Title I funding to lower class sizes and provide other specialists and a rich curriculum in schools that serve high concentrations of lower-income students.
Only Congress can mitigate the damage, by taking swift action to dedicate funding for education to lessen the number of job losses and stabilize public schools.
The U.S. House of Representatives did its part, passing the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) on May 15. The bill includes $915 billion in direct relief for state and local governments that can be used to pay vital workers such as educators. It also includes $90 billion in additional education funding to help save educator jobs.
If senators pass the HEROES Act, more than 800,000 education jobs could be saved—more than 673,000 K-12 and 153,000 higher ed jobs—the NEA data shows. But the Senate has yet to take up the next COVID-19 relief package, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he doesn’t intend to address it anytime soon.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, recent estimates indicate that state and local governments that state and local governments will face a shortfall approaching $1 trillion between now and the end of 2021.
The Board of Revenue Estimates last month reported that Maryland could face a $1.1 billion revenue shortfall in fiscal 2020, a $2.6 billion shortfall in fiscal 2022, and a nearly $4 billion shortfall in fiscal 2022.