The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday, during which he unveiled the American Jobs Act, a $447 billion package that would help struggling school districts retain teachers and address the antiquated state of many public schools.
“Our school children deserve a quality education and that cannot happen when their teachers are getting laid off and their school buildings are in need of repairs and upgrades that keep getting postponed due to budget cuts,” said NSBA’s Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “In the face of massive budget shortfalls and education layoffs at school districts across the country, this new funding would provide necessary aid to America’s schools.”
Breaking down the numbers, 31 percent of Obama’s jobs proposal would be allocated to infrastructure and local aid, with $25 billion earmarked for modernizing public K-12 schools and $35 billion committed to preventing 280,000 teachers and emergency responders from being laid off.
“The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools,” Obama detailed in his speech. “It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country.”
According to Education Week, the school construction monies would be divided among the neediest states, which would have until Sept. 30, 2012 to decide how to divvy it up, though the largest 100 districts would receive a direct grant.
Obama challenged the notion that America can prosper as a society by simply dismantling Big Government.
“Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?” Obama asked Congress members.
“No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.”
The question that now remains is will Congress live up to those responsibilities?