‘Edujobs’ said to benefit unions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An "edujobs" bill that appears likely to clear the Senate would shift money from food assistance and other education programs into a $10 billion teachers' job fund and Medicaid payments to states, according to various media reports.

U.S. House members are being called to a special session next week to vote on the bill, which supporters say will ward off as many as 100,000 public school teacher layoffs, according to The Grand Rapids Press. But critics point out that the funding comes from other programs intended to serve students and that teachers unions - not just teachers or students - are among the beneficiaries.

Education Week reported that the bill takes $50 million from the Striving Readers adolescent literacy program, $10 million from the Ready to Teach program that pays for teacher telecommunications programs and $82 million from student financial aid administration. The bill would not take money from the "Race to the Top" fund, as earlier proposed, according to Education Week.

The Washington Independent reported that the bill, which increases Medicaid payments to states, also relies on rolling back benefits in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as of 2014. Those benefits were increased under the federal stimulus program, it reported.

The Michigan-based Education Action Group said that the bill would effectively funnel money to teachers unions, estimating the amount at about $36 million for the National Education Association and $14 million for the American Federation of Teachers, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Union leaders said the bill should have been funded as "emergency spending" rather than by taking money from other programs, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Edujobs bill closer to clearing Senate, though critics argue unions, not students, gain," Aug. 4, 2010

The Washington Independent, "Senate Makes Further Cuts to Food Stamps to Pay for Medicaid, Edujobs," Aug. 4, 2010

Education Week, "Edujobs Clears Key Hurdle," Aug. 4, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Policy Analyst Reaction: The Teacher Salary Bailout," May 30, 2010