FL and other states could lose teaching positions as recession looms and pandemic continues

Elementary school class
Elementary school class. Credit: Getty Images

While states across the nation are attempting to reopen and boost the economy, researchers are trying to predict the potential impacts of a looming recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the arena of education, a new analysis predicts just under 319,000 teaching positions could be at risk if states cut funding for education by 15 percent and no government action takes place.

Florida could be impacted by teacher losses, though not as much as other states, the study shows.

Author Michael Griffith is a policy analyst and senior researcher at Learning Policy Institute. He uses data from the 2008 recession to forecast what effect a recession resulting from COVID-19 might have on the nation’s teachers.

He notes that in the previous economic recession, the United States lost over 120,000 teaching positions. The Federal Recovery Act, a 9.74-billion-dollar federal stimulus from 2010, helped save almost around 275,000 education jobs.

“In other words, if the federal government had not stepped in to help our public schools, more than 395,000 education jobs would have been lost,” Griffith stated in his study.

Griffith fears a higher job loss for teachers in the nearing COVID-influenced recession.

“While predictions are wide-ranging, most suggest that our current economic downturn, plus the extraordinary costs for health care and unemployment, could produce a reduction in state education revenue of at least 10% this year and 20% or more in 2020–21,” he said.

“If these projections are correct, the resulting hit to education spending would be two and a half times worse than the lowest point of the last recession.”

According to the Learning Policy Institute, an analysis stated that “a 15 percent reduction in state education funding could lead to the loss of more than 300,000 teaching positions” across the country.

Griffith’s analysis indicates an average of 8.4% loss for teaching positions across the United States.

A graph projects Florida would experience a 4.1% loss of teaching positions if the nation experienced a 15% cut to education funding during a future recession.

States receive education funding from different sources of taxes across state lines, which is why there is so much variation from state to state.

Other states are projected to have greater losses. Hawaii, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington are expected to see a loss of almost 20% of teaching positions if there is no federal assistance.

“A national economic downturn will impact different states in different ways, depending on how reliant their schools are on state revenue,” Griffith said in his study.

Other sources of education funding can come from tobacco and alcohol taxes, as well as lottery sales.

Griffith notes that loss of teaching positions will directly affect future student learning, and this impact may be “felt for decades.” He says federal intervention would diminish these effects.

“For these reasons, our political leaders in Washington, DC, should not wait to provide significant aid to our schools at this crucial time,” Griffith said.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.