If you want to get a feeling for how education stimulus dollars are being used, check out this story from the Northwest Arkansas Times. We learn that the Fayetteville School District is using stimulus dollars to double the regular pay of teachers working in a summer literacy program.
That’s right. The money is not being used to save teacher jobs that would have otherwise been cut. The money isn’t being used to offer a new program that otherwise wouldn’t have been offered. The money is simply being used to pay teachers more for the same thing that they would have been doing anyway. The only thing that is “racing to the top” about this use of funds is teacher pay. As the NWAT reports:
Fayetteville School District is using part of its federal stimulus funding to pay teachers in the Leap Ahead summer literacy program at Owl Creek School about double their regular pay.
Teachers in this program that targets at-risk students who have completed kindergarten through second grades will bank $8,000 for 12 days of classroom instruction and three days of preparation at the school.
That’s about $533 per day for working from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This does not include any extra time that school officials say teachers will be required to develop lesson plans and meet with parents.
Springdale Public Schools pays its summer school teachers $25 per hour, per district policy, said Rick Schaefer, the district’s public information officer.
For those of you without a calculator, that works out to paying Fayetteville teachers $76 per hour of scheduled work (excluding benefits) to do something that teachers in neighboring Springdale are doing for $25 per hour. And it is apparently double what the same Fayetteville teachers are normally paid.
The Leap Ahead program may well be a good one. But it isn’t clear how simply paying the same people more to do the same thing that would have been done in the absence of stimulus money helps anyone other than the people getting paid more.
This is essentially a transfer of wealth from taxpayers (who on average earn less) to this group of teachers (who on average earn more). And we wonder why the stimulus isn’t stimulating the economy.