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Sen. Harkin proposes $23 billion bailout for schools

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The economic stimulus law enacted in February 2009 provided nearly $100 billion for education, much of it to help states avoid layoffs following the deepest economic recession in decades. But that source of aid will soon run out. Even though the economy appears to be recovering, state and local tax revenues remain stagnant. As a result, educators face what experts call a "funding cliff."

Last week the American Association of School Administrators reported that two-thirds of members surveyed cut positions for this school year and 90 percent expect to do so for the coming year. The survey of 453 administrators also found that 62 percent anticipated raising the average class size, 34 percent were considering the elimination of summer school and 13 percent were weighing the possibility of a four-day school week.

In California, the budget situation is so bleak that more than 20,000 educators have been given notice they might not be rehired in the next school year. Actress Megan Fox was moved to produce a nearly four-minute video that dramatizes the school budget crisis. In the video, circulating on the Internet this month, a clueless Fox wanders into a classroom stuffed with several dozen students who assume she has become their instructor.

"Wait, you guys don't have a teacher?" she asks.

"She was laid off," replies one girl.

"And then they combined art class with another teacher's class," says another.

Fox concluded the video with an appeal targeting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R): "Make your voice heard. Call, write and annoy the governor until he cries for his mommy."


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