The American public education system is hemorrhaging jobs, Melissa Harris-Perry reported on her Sunday show this week. According to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, 300,000 education jobs have disappeared from the American economy since 2009. 7,000 of those jobs went away just last month.
"For the most part, these are not teachers fired for poor performance," said Harris-Perry. As evidence, she cited the case of Sacramento teacher Michelle Apperson, who was fired in June shortly after receiving a "teacher of the year" award.
What actually caused many of these firings was the wave of the budget shortfalls rippling through state and local governments across the country. Over the past several years, those smaller governments have buckled under the weight of top-down austerity, and gouged their own budgets accordingly. In some cases—such as in Scott Walker's Wisconsin—government shortfalls were self-inflicted, though teachers and other public sector workers have born the brunt of the consequences.
"Who are we kidding if we think we can build a first class country with a third-rate system of public education?" said Harris-Perry.