Obama Jobs Program Would Boost Education

In a speech to Congress on September 8, President Obama laid out a broad proposal to put Americans back to work with economic measures that both Democrats and Republicans have agreed upon in the past.

“The next election is fourteen months away,” the President said.  “And the people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months.  Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day.  They need help, and they need it now.”

President Obama hosted educators, police officers, firefighters, veterans and small business owners at a Rose Garden event to announce he is sending the bill to Congress.

The President’s plan focuses on help for the middle class. With tax cuts and government programs, the President’s “American Jobs Act” would put an estimated $447 billion into the pockets of working Americans and businesses to speed recovery from the worst recession since the Depression.

High on the list of programs was $30 billion to prevent the layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and rehire tens of thousands more.

“These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher,” President Obama said. “But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.”

The President called for $25 billion to repair and modernize 35,000 schools, creating construction jobs by fixing roofs and windows and installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms. He asked for an additional $5 billion to upgrade community colleges.

“There are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating,” he said. “How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America.  Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now.”

President Obama also proposed a new Pathways Back to Work Fund to provide hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults with opportunities to work and to achieve needed training in growth industries.

The major parts of the President’s program included cutting payroll taxes in half for both employees and employers in 2012, extending unemployment insurance, and giving companies financial incentives to hire the unemployed.

Most of all, the President underlined the importance of fast action and an end to political gridlock. “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight,” he said.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, who had written to the President before the speech asking him to help schools make up for drastic budget shortfalls, said the plan shows Obama “continues to demonstrate his commitment to the success of all students.”

We’ve heard from our members across the country as they have been returning to school. They are seeing overcrowded classes, and teachers are concerned about how they can provide every student with a well-rounded education when so many programs have been cut,” said Van Roekel.

Besides directly helping schools, he said, the jobs plan will improve the education of America’s students because “unemployment isn’t just an economic issue – it’s an education issue. Our members have seen firsthand the devastating impact unemployment is having on our communities and our schools. Too many of our students are coming to schools hungry and without the basic supplies they need as moms and dads struggle to make ends meet.”

Take Action: Tell Congress to Support the American Jobs Act

Video: “Put Our Teachers Back in the Classroom”

  • Jay Johnson

    The American Jobs Act does not exist yet, so how could anyone support it? I’m a teacher in San Diego. I promote critical thinking all day long. Good readers must be critical and evaluative. There is nothing in this jobs act but rhetoric from those who are unable to substantiate it’s contents.. The bill does not exist! Remember that NOBODY has seen this jobs act. Perhaps it would be wise of us to inquire of it’s true contents. Unfortunately, I believe to encourage it’s passage would be foolish and irresponsible until it is actually revealed.

    President Obama, Where’s the Bill?

  • kagthy lyons

    I haven’t had a raise in 5 years and it is very hard to make ends meet. I was a career changer and started out making less than those coming out of college. So the first two years of teaching I received small increases then everything was frozen, I don’t know how long I can keep teaching before having to look for a higher paying job. If they want to keep teachers, they need to pay them what they are worth, especially those of us at my level of teaching. The teachers that are at the 20-30 year mark are being paid well. ……. At age 48 with three children and a single parent, I should be making more than I am…..

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  • Marie

    1. Where’s the Bill?
    2. From where will the money come to support it? Financial Responsibility is crucial in these economic times. No support from this teacher.

  • Emmy

    The bill cannot pass if the Republicans are aginst it!

  • Dan Linden

    The numbers do not even make sense.

    High on the list of programs was $30 billion to prevent the layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and rehire tens of thousands more.

    Lets do some calculations. So this bill is for what..the next 10 years.
    Rehire “tens of thousands” Lets say 100,000 teachers.

    so 30 Bill $ divided by 10 years = $3B.

    $3B divided by 380,000 teachers = $7894 !!!

  • Tim Rierden

    The whole idea of more government spending is wrong and wrong headed. This is public education in which we’re involved. That means our funding comes from tax revenues. If our economy is not creating the revenue we need then we have to cut back. The proper way to cure low funding levels is to realize increased tax revenues from a growing economy. Mr. Obama’s inflexible reliance on ineffective and obsolete economic models is crippling a weak, damaged economy even more. It’s time the NEA got off the ideological band wagon and started supporting people that really understand where funds for government programs originate.

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