A look at some of the major problems around the country:
New York City
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans today to cut 6,000 teachers from the work force to deal with a looming gap in the city's budget. Only 1,500 of those teachers would be lost to attrition. The remainder would be laid off in the most significant cuts to New York City teachers' ranks since the 1970s, according to The New York Times.
With teacher firings imminent, Bloomberg has asked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to amend a "last hired, first fired" law to allow teacher merit to play a role in deciding which teachers stay and which go.
"We have great teachers and I want to make sure we keep the very best if we have to lay off teachers," Bloomberg said.
The United Federation of Teachers, New York City's largest teachers union, has shrugged off the threat of pink slips, calling it familiar political maneuvering.
"The last couple of years began with similar threats of layoffs and massive school budget cutbacks," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during testimony at the Capitol in Albany. "Yet each year, the members of this legislature ignored the rhetoric and did the hard work of finding better solutions."
In Wisconsin, public workers have been demonstrating this week against budget proposals that would significantly reduce their take-home pay. Teachers and students are protesting the expected $900 million in cuts to state school aid over the next two years.
Schools in Madison were closed Wednesday when 40 percent of the members of the teachers union called in sick to protest at the Capitol. And on Tuesday, nearly 800 students at Madison East High School walked out to join demonstrations, carrying signs that said, "Future worker, future voter" and "Walk out for Walker out," a reference to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The Texas Legislature is planning to slash $4.8 billion in state school aid over the next two years to close the gap in its budget. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Republican leaders have proposed legislation that would reduce the public school budget by at least 13 percent. The cuts would result in an estimated 100,000 school worker layoffs, according to The New York Times.
The dramatic cuts in Texas are aggravated by property-tax-limit laws enacted in 2006, which keep local districts from recovering some of their lost funding through tax hikes. Houston Schools Superintendent Terry Grier suggested the state could ease the pain by relaxing class-size rules and allowing districts to do away with "last hired, first fired" rules.
The Los Angeles Unified School District could be facing 5,000 teacher layoffs based on a new budget plan passed on Tuesday by LA's Board of Education, which is expecting a $408 million budget cut. But, in contrast to many school districts nationwide, the LA district is not completely beholden to teacher seniority laws. In January, a judge approved a settlement that will protect 45 new and low-performing schools from teacher layoffs altogether. It also required teacher layoffs at the remaining schools to be shared.