Saturday, May 15, 2010

Keeping America’s Teachers in the Classroom

Across the country, state and local budget shortfalls are threatening the American public education system. Estimates put the number of teaching jobs at risk at 100,000 to 300,000 in the upcoming school year alone.
The administration has already made great strides in fighting to protect education jobs: through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, more than 400,000 of jobs that had been at risk have already been saved. But there is much work still to be done. This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged Congress to swiftly pass three bills that would each provide an additional $23 billion dollars in funding to keep American teachers in their classrooms.
In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Secretary Duncan emphasized the administration’s support for the quick passage of these bills. 
We are gravely concerned that ongoing state and local budget challenges are threatening hundreds of thousands of teacher jobs for the upcoming school year, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs at risk. Without swift action, millions of children will experience these budget cuts in one way or another through reductions in class time; cuts to early childhood programs, extracurricular activities, and summer school; and reduced course offerings as teachers are laid off. These budget cuts would also undermine the groundbreaking reform efforts underway in states and districts all across the country....
We applaud Chairmen Harkin, Miller and Obey for crafting legislation in direct response to these challenges. S. 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act, H.R. 2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act,  and H.R. 4812, the Local Jobs for America Act, each call for $23 billion in emergency support to preserve education jobs modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This funding would keep teachers in the classroom while helping to sustain meaningful and necessary reforms in public education across the country.
In a White House blog post, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes argues that the loss of these jobs hurts American public schoolchildren and has a detrimental ripple effect across the economy:
As the President has said, we live in a global economy where the greatest job qualification isn't what you can do but what you know. Our teachers are vital to our nation’s success, and if we don’t act now and act boldly, we will not only endanger the future of tens of millions of students but also threaten to undermine the recovery of our economy.
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