The money won’t last long, but it’s still something. Today the Senate passed a last-minute $26 billion aid package for ailing states crippled by the recession. In it was a $10 billion fund to help save more than 100,000 public school teachers and school support staff positions this fall. The AP reports the other $16 billion will be sent to bolster Medicaid.
Many school districts have had to already make contingency arrangements for this fall. Mass layoffs were announced months ago, but some school districts have even been forced to cut out instructional days—San Francisco school kids will get four fewer school days than this year. Other strapped school districts have moved to four-day school weeks next year.
All told, the $10 billion could help states rehire hundreds of thousands of public employees, including police officers and firefighters. An earlier version of the $10 billion fund was cut out of a war-spending bill after President Obama threatened to veto it because it would have taken money out of Obama’s education reform programs. That fight pitted school districts’ short-term emergency needs against Obama’s long-term education reform initiatives like Race to the Top.