U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimates the number of jobs likely to be lost at 100,000 to 300,000, The New York Times reports. In an interview Monday, he said the country faces "educational catastrophe."
While many schools have already cut jobs because of the recession, this year districts face sharp declines in state aid and local property taxes. Federal stimulus money for education has already been spent.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg district in North Carolina laid off 120 teachers last year and expects to hand out 940 more pink slips. In California, 22,000 teachers have been notified of possible layoff while Illinois officials predict 17,000 will have to go.
"We are doing things and considering options I never thought I'd have to consider," said Peter C. Gorman, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg superintendent. "This may be our new economic reality."
The American Association of School Administrators reports 90 percent of superintendents expect layoffs, up from two-thirds last year. While 2 percent said last year they were considering cutting the school week to four days, 13 percent are doing so now.