Obama Jobs Legislation Includes $60 Billion for Education

The American Jobs Act would provide $60 billion to modernize schools and retain teachers.

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President Obama's plan to create jobs includes up to $60 billion in new education funding to prevent teacher layoffs and to modernize and renovate more than 35,000 aging schools across the country.

The American Jobs Act, which Obama announced at a joint session of Congress last Thursday and will be introduced to both houses later this week, would stimulate the economy and save thousands of teaching jobs, according to the White House.

Due to budget cuts in many states and districts, the White House estimates that as many as 280,000 K-12 educators are in danger of being laid off sometime this year, which could impact some schools' class sizes, school day length, and class offerings. Obama wants to provide $30 billion to prevent layoffs, rehire teachers, and hire new educators.

The bill would also provide $30 billion to focus efforts on modernizing schools. Money would be used to renovate older school buildings as well as wire schools for high speed Internet connections, create new science labs, and purchase technology. The White House says hundreds of thousands of construction workers, engineers, and electricians would be put to work under the plan.

Approximately 40 percent of the renovation funds would be reserved for schools in the 100 largest high-needs districts with the highest proportion of low-income and minority students. The remaining 60 percent of that money would be delegated to states to disperse among school districts.

Many experts think this bill has little chance of passing in its current form, as Republicans in Congress don't want to spend so much money on education. Responding to Obama's speech, Congressman John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, his call for more stimulus-type measures ignores the reality that people—not government—are our nation's true job creators," he said in a statement. "The private sector doesn't need Washington to tell them how to create jobs; they need Washington to get out of their way."

For more reactions and analysis, read this Education Week article about the bill.

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