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Help The Economy: Put A Teacher's Aide In Every Classroom

Economist Robert Shiller (co-creator of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, an essential tool for investors and economists) has an interesting idea for stimulating the economy: Put a teacher’s aide in every classroom.

Why? As reported by the Wall Street Journal, "Not only would it employ millions, but it would be good for the children," who would benefit from "the extra attention of another person."

Shiller is regarded as one of the most important economists today. The Arthur M. Okun professor of economics at Yale University and professor of finance at the Yale School of Management, he forewarned about both the dot.com bust and the housing bubble. For years, he criticized the so-called efficient markets model of economics, which many today cite as a key driver of the policies that led to the financial crisis. He is also the author of many books, including, Irrational Exuberance in 2000, which warned that the peaking real estate and stock markets were in bubble territory.

Shiller is worried about today’s economy. He estimates that the likelihood of a double-dip recession is growing and that we are "teetering" on the brink of a dangerous deflationary spiral. What to do?

The immediate issue is jobs, Shiller says. His suggestion: The government should invest in teacher’s aides. One for every classroom in America.

Shiller’s dire warnings before the 2008 economic crash were dismissed by more mainstream economists. He was right; they were wrong. Is anyone listening now?

Comments

I am a paraprofessional. I take pride in the fact that this “warm body” has warmed the hearts of children for 35 years; I’ve helped shape the minds of hundreds of kids. I have helped countless children succeed in school and in life. My impact is far-reaching. In fact, study after study shows that paraprofessionals can make a difference in students’ lives. (See this summary http://www.aft.org/pdfs/psrp/ParasandStudAchieve.pdf that shows the benefits of paraprofessionals to student achievement). I'll give TFT (The Frustrated Teacher) the benefit of the doubt and assume that he or she has been too busy to question why the school system didn’t adequately prepare its paraprofessionals and volunteers for their job assignments, but I'm happy to say that it isn't the norm. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of what I do. And, most of all, I am proud of the impact I make on children’s lives.

Don't forget that putting a warm adult body in a classroom doesn't mean that body will be helpful. Often, when an aid or parent volunteer come in to a classroom to help, they need more direction than the kids. Plus, the teacher has to make sure the extra adult is doing the right thing. In my experience, unless I know the extra person and we are on the same page, they just get in the way. Instead of using kids and schools as a means to solve society's problems maybe we should look to real solutions: -Universal health care -Free, high-quality early childhood education -Decent school lunches -A modern Conservation Corps Economists shouldn't be giving advice on schools--or maybe anything, for that matter, considering how screwed up the economy is.

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