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The COVID-19 Crisis and Teacher Layoffs: Research on How to Mitigate Harm
CALDER Policy Brief No. 20-0620
One of the unfortunate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the sharp downturn in tax revenues, in the absence of a federal bailout, likely foretells unprecedented cuts in state and local budgets. This will in turn mean large cuts in teaching positions across the country; indeed, some projections suggest that the number of teacher layoffs in public schools could be in the hundreds of thousands.
There is little doubt that this will have significant impacts on students. But we’ve also learned some lessons from the Great Recession, the last time that layoffs (and the threat of layoffs) were a prominent feature of the education landscape. These lessons won’t allow policymakers to eliminate the educational harm associated with layoffs, but they do suggest concrete ways to mitigate the harm to students associated with painful cuts to educational budgets. In this policy brief, we describe some of the research on the effects of teacher layoffs, and what it suggests about impacts on students.