|The devastating economic crash due to the coronavirus pandemic has created huge budget shortfalls in every state. Estimates show revenue allocated to education will drop from 15% to 30% next year. For comparison, during the Great Recession (2010), education revenue only decreased by 8.6%. A 20% reduction will cause the loss of 6,500 teaching jobs in Arizona in 2021. A 30% reduction will mean over 10,000 lost teaching positions!
At the same time that revenues are falling, schools have new COVID-related expenses, for example: disinfection supplies and personnel, free meals for more students, digital devices and internet connections for remote learning (15% of students at $500/student), expanded learning time for students who have fallen behind academically (20 days/year for 50% of students), and more teachers (class size will need to be reduced in order to maintain social distancing).
How Will The Koch Network Take Advantage Of This Situation?
Nationally, up to 700,000 teaching jobs could be lost because of the current economic downturn. The Koch network and other privatizers have been preparing for this moment for a long time. They have been slowly whittling away at our schools, but they are ready to move quickly toward privatization whenever an opportunity arises.
Their plan is clear. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans public school system was shuttered and replaced with charter schools. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the Puerto Rico public school system was shuttered and replaced with charter schools and private school vouchers. This is disaster capitalism in action. It could happen in our state next year!
We have to start NOW to ward off a public school takeover in Arizona. The 2021 state budget fight will begin after the election in November. In the meantime, Arizona Educators United and REDforED need us to ask Governor Ducey to call a special legislative session to increase education funding for COVID-related expenses. Although the 2020 legislative session is over, the Governor has indicated he will call special sessions to discuss concerns related to COVID-19 and the budget shortfall.
Kochs Off Campus!