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Teacher Layoffs Go Hollywood: Zooey Deschanel's 'New Girl' Character to Be Pink Slipped

She'll follow in the footsteps of 150,000 other laid off teachers.


It looks like the most popular elementary school teacher on network television, Zooey Deschanel's quirky, manic pixie dream girl character Jess on the hit Fox TV show "New Girl", will experience what over 150,000 other American educators have over the past two years. Jess is about to be laid off due to budget cuts.

Indeed, executive producer Liz Meriwether told Entertainment Weekly that Jess will have "to restart her life and figure out who she is and what she wants to do." And, says Meriwether, the show plans to let Jess "have a moment of questioning who she is, why she's a teacher, and if that's really what she wants to do."

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Texas Gutting Education But Spending $4 Billion to Widen 28-Mile Highway

The Lone Star State: Still not convinced that schools need money.

If you have $4.4 billion to spend, what's more important, widening a 28-mile highway or stopping devastating school budget cuts? According to the State of Texas—the same state that's subsidizing Formula One racing while preparing to lay off 100,000 teachers—the highway is the priority.

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Texas to Layoff 100,000 Teachers While Giving Millions to Formula One Racing

The Lone Star State plans to fund a race track instead of schools. Really.


Talk to any pretty much any state legislator these days and they'll tell you that they're broke because of the economic downturn, and that's why they have to slash billions from education. While it is true that states coast to coast are hurting, and there are plenty of examples of misplaced funding priorities to be found, I haven't heard one as egregious as Texas' plans to slash education budgets and layoff almost 100,000 teachers, all while agreeing to pay $25 million per year through 2022 to Formula One auto racing.

Investors are "building a 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) track to bring the event to Austin" and the $25 million government handout from the state will subsidize the costs Formula One will incur. The office of one of the project's main investors, Clear Channel Communications Inc. co-founder B.J. “Red” McCombs, told Bloomberg News that "Formula One race in Austin next year will spur $300 million of spending" and building the "$242 million track, which has begun, is projected to add 1,300 temporary jobs and pump $400 million into the economy."

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Can We Improve Education By Increasing Class Size?

Bill Gates says that smaller class sizes aren't necessarily the answer. How about we pilot his idea at private schools?


Microsoft genius Bill Gates has a counter-intuitive, money-saving idea that he says might just boost student achievement: strategically raise class sizes. In advance of a national governors gathering, Gates expressed his concern over looming education budget cuts. But he's not convinced that education cuts necessarily have to harm students. Gates says that instead of using seniority to lay off teachers, school districts could save money by firing bad teachers and putting more students into the classrooms of teachers who get stellar student achievement results.

What's in it for the high achieving teachers? Financial incentives. But, even with teachers getting a bonus for taking on more students, Gates says school districts would still save money because they'd have fewer teachers overall. And, students might benefit and actually learn more from being in the room with a great teacher instead of languishing in the classroom of someone who's incompetent. "There are people in the field who think class size is the only thing," Gates said. "But in fact, the dominant factor is having a great teacher in front of the classroom."

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Obama's Education Budget Is on the Right Track. Too Bad Congress Won't Approve It

Obama's new budget proposes spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher training, and science and math education. If only it could pass.


President Obama unveiled his entire fiscal year 2012 budget yesterday at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, and his proposed $77.4 billion in education spending—a 4 percent increase from 2010, the most recent budget enacted—bucks the national trend of defunding education. It's not a perfect budget, but Obama's committing to spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher and principal recruitment and training, and science, technology, engineering and math education.

In a post-budget-reveal conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that announcing the budget in a technology school was deliberate and reflects the laser-like focus the Obama Administration has on STEM education. Duncan said a big part of increasing the number of STEM educators nationwide will depend on funding the development of alternative certification programs that will make it easier for qualified professionals to head into the classroom. He also hopes to incentivize excellence in teaching by awarding grants to high performing STEM teachers.

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