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Austerity has been the biggest impediment to the advancement of education on all levels in the United States, according to the latest data in a report from the American Federation of Teachers.

Expand chart
K-12 data: Census Bureau; Higher ed. data: 2017 SHEF Report, State Higher Education Executive Officers; Note: Inflation adjusted; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The state of play: Many states were able to work their way out of the recession due to a stimulus package commissioned by the Obama administration and a $145 billion relief appropriation from congress to states, with school districts receiving $80 billion for relief.

  • That funding ran dry in 2011, the study says, and states never adjusted their tax rates to maintain a steady stream of revenue for their school districts.

The big picture: Per the report, 25 states having spent less on education in 2016 than they did in 2008 when the economy sunk into a recession. There were 41 states that funded higher education institutions less-so in 2016 than they did in 2008.

By the numbers: Education has lost billions in state funding behind tax cuts — particularly in Republican states, according to the study.

  • A decade after the great recession, K-12 schools are still underfunded as a result of $19 billion in state tax cuts.
  • Higher education took a big hit as well, falling behind by $15 billion after the recession.
  • Tuition for two-year degrees in 2017 rose at three times the rate of inflation compared to 2008. Four-year college degrees continued to rise in cost as well.
  • Of the 25 states that have fallen behind in K-12 education funding, 18 are taxing their residents less since the recession.

Teacher pay has also fallen in 38 states since 2010, which has been at the center of the teacher strikes from around the nation.

Expand chart
Data: National Center for Education Statistics, The Council for Community and Economic Research; Note: Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, adjusted for inflation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

What they're saying: Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said elected officials — many of whom are Republicans — are responsible.

"When legislators choose to prioritize millionaires over children, our country suffers."
— Weingarten

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

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