No Recession for Schools

The Winter 2010 issue of Education Next is just  hitting newsstands (and subscribers’ mailboxes).  Paul Peterson visits the sunny side of recessions in “A Recession for Schools: Not as bad as it sounds,” his “Letter from the Editors” for the new issue.

“Recessions cause lots of harm, but they also eliminate bloat, fat, even fraud,” he writes. “What is politically impossible in good times can be readily justified when profits fall and deficits loom.”  He continues,

Unfortunately, public schools skipped the recession. When everyone else was forced to rethink their priorities, school districts found themselves nicely bailed out by the federal government’s $100 billion stimulus package.

And, Peterson notes, as another article in the new issue of Education Next by James Guthrie and Arthur Peng documents (“The Phony Funding Crisis,”) schools have always been insulated from downturns in the economy.

When the economy turns south, school districts do not cut the fat but push for new revenue sources: more state aid, money from gamblers, fees for services, and now a federal bailout.

“So what will happen when the stimulus package dries up in less than two years’ time?” Peterson asks. “Stay tuned—and taxpayers watch your wallets.”

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