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Teachers and the economy

Some familiar themes in this story.

Gov. Rick Perry can’t quit talking about jobs.

He used the word 19 times in his recent state of the state address and has made it a top spending priority. But if Perry realizes his vision of a budget balanced through cuts alone, 100,000 teachers could lose their jobs.

That’s about a third of the 333,000 teachers employed by Texas public schools.

“In a small town, the school is the largest employer,” said Deborah Ottmers, assistant superintendent for business and finance at the Fredericksburg school district. These proposed cuts would be “a huge hit on the economy in any town.”

Plans for layoffs are stirring panic from Houston to far West Texas. And while the Legislature has until May to write a budget, districts can’t wait to see what happens. The pink slips have already started in places such as Austin, Round Rock and Dallas.

Perry, meanwhile, keeps talking about jobs. Just not teaching jobs.

That would be because he doesn’t care about public sector jobs, and if anyone were ever able to get him to answer a question about it he’d likely say that losing these jobs is a good thing that will be good for the economy. He won’t have a plausible explanation for how and why that’s so, but it’s a matter of faith so those things aren’t important. When unemployment rises in Texas as a result of his preferred budget policies, he’ll just simply deny that’s what’s happening and continue to insist that everything is dandy and we’re the envy of the nation.

If you’re a teacher and you voted for Rick Perry, what did you expect? If you live in one of those small towns that voted overwhelmingly for Rick Perry as most rural areas did and are now facing a huge blow to your local economy, again, what did you expect? Rick Perry is many things, but subtle is not one of them. Whatever you thought the 2010 campaign was about, he’s been very clear about what he wants to do. None of what is happening now is, or should be, a surprise. But if you do feel caught off guard, here are some things you can do to get back on track.

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