One of the many devastating results of the Great Recession has been the damage wrought on state budgets, which have led to dramatic cuts in education, including plenty of teacher layoffs. Part of this pain was alleviated by the economic stimulus package passed last year, but the depth and length of the recession means that many states are still in very bad shape.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has crafted a $23 billion bill meant to help states avoid making mass teacher layoffs, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised will reach the floor sometime. "We will be pushing hard for this in the Senate," Harkin said.
Thus far, Harkin has received no Republican support for his effort. When National Journal asked Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) if he would back the bill, he scoffed that he "couldn't imagine" a situation in which he would give a bill preventing teacher layoffs his blessing:
Another GOP member, Richard Burr of North Carolina, said he hadn't seen the bill but "couldn't imagine" he would support it, positing that it's not the role of the federal government to hire teachers.
Burr might want to spend some time imagining what teacher layoffs in his own state would look like. There are currently 3,700 fewer teachers working in North Carolina than there were last year, and cuts for the next school year "will be even worse."