At Modeled Behavior, I noticed the following observation:
Government downsizing will not continue forever. I know many economists and commentators are focused on the contractionary nature of the budget deal. Don’t be. As I have said, there are basically two types of government workers: teachers and not-teachers. What we’ve seen over the last year is a sharp drop in State and Local employment and a big chunk of that is teachers. This will not continue forever. Local political forces are different than national ones and the push-back against little Johnny having 45 students in his class, or Maggie getting her AP class canceled will be strong and bipartisan.
And as for Maggie getting her AP class canceled, the availability of AP classes in most K-12 school districts has been limited until recently, when programs like ACCESS in Alabama and the Florida Virtual School dramatically increased availability. But of course these programs are not commonly seen as an alternative to downsizing. Rather, distance education and blended learning strategies, that combine distance and traditional forms of instruction, allow us to combine technology and labor in ways that can reduce the need for teachers in any given district.
It is nevertheless possible that there will be political resistance to this transition. On the other hand, I assume that there will be taxpayers who will resist tax increases, which is to say that a renewed expansion of the teaching workforce is far from inevitable for all of the reasons Chubb and Moe outline in their excellent book Liberating Learning.