Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered apologies for misspeaking last week when on national television he said that teachers were already losing jobs as a result of the budget sequester.
"When I said 'pink slips' that was probably the wrong word," Duncan told reporters at a news conference related to the sequester. "Language matters, and I need to be very, very clear."
And he does. But so do all politicians. And it's wrong when anyone, right or left does it. There are three problems here.
One: Americans aren't stupid. Whether it's furloughs, pink slips, layoffs, etc., it's not the semantics. It's what it means. There will be pink slips issued to to teachers, and there are cuts in education spending as a result of the sequester.
In all, there are over $4 million dollars in cuts to federal education programs. Those include special education, career education, technical education, adult education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs, Head Start programs, etc. As a matter of fact, 28 percent of the federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: cut.
According to the American Association of School Administrators there will be over 37,000 jobs in education cut, and 25,000 of those will be teachers. So Arne Duncan's "pink slips are being issued" statement was wrong, but in the timing, not in the fact that the pink slips will be issued.
Two: What really bothered me about this is the right would have you think that Arne Duncan was responsible for the deaths of thousands when he "misspoke" about pink slips. I remember a man who was our commander in chief, who "misspoke" about weapons of mass destruction. That led to the invasion of a sovereign nation and thousands of people being killed.
And three, lastly: Is the issue when pink slips will be issued? Or rather should we be discussing, not only how many Americans will lose their jobs within our educational system, but how many of our children, Native Americans, children with disabilities or special needs, poor children, children of the military, and our young children in our head start programs will lose their opportunity to learn? If you look within the walls of our prisons, the majority lack one thing: education. And without one, it is more difficult to get a decent paying job. And without a job, a pink slip doesn't matter much now does it?