Over the past two weeks members of Obama’s Cabinet have come to the administration’s defense, claiming that sequestration cuts will result in a chaotic, gutted government incapable of providing necessary funding. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan added his name to the list on Sunday in an attempt to generate outrage over teacher layoffs:
“As many of 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs,” Duncan warned on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices they can’t come back this fall.”
Critics were initially skeptical of Duncan’s claims, as they severely contradicted a White House report that estimated layoffs of roughly 10,000. Yesterday during a press briefing, Sec. Duncan was asked to specify which counties were handing out pink slips.
“We think as many as 40,000 people will lose jobs. The only other way you don’t do that, again, I think is you would reduce school days. You could go to three-day weeks or four. Again, you have people and time -- those are your only variable factors, and unfortunately, everything else is gone. So, still early, but you’ll see, unfortunately, across the country a steady drumbeat of these notifications going out, which folks have a legal obligation to do.”
“There’s a district where it’s happened. But again, it’s just because they have an earlier union notification than most -- so Kanawha County in West Virginia. But the vast majority of them will be rolling out over the next two months.”
Almost immediately following the briefing officials from Kanawha County told The Washington Post that the layoffs weren’t related to the sequester:
“They don’t necessarily mean a teacher has been laid off”, said Pam Padon, director of federal programs and Title 1 for the Kanawha County public schools.
“The major impact is not so much sequestration,” she said. “Those five or six jobs would already be gone regardless of sequestration.”
Interestingly, these layoffs are coming from a previous Obama-led cut that labeled Kanawha County’s Head Start program “deficient”, forcing them to compete for funding. Sensationalist sequestration reporting isn’t surprising when it involves the media, but for the White House administration to actively participate in providing false information, it’s unprofessional and an abuse of U.S. executive power.