Articles tagged with School construction

The week in blogs

President Obama’s “American Jobs Act” – part of the $477 billion legislative package he proposed to Congress Thursday night – includes $30 billion in new funds to prevent more teacher layoffs and  another $25 billion in school construction money that could help rebuild 35,000 schools.

Sounds great. But is it too good to be true? Afraid so, writes Alison Klein in Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog:

“There’s almost no chance that Republicans—who generally think the $100 billion for education in the stimulus was a giant waste of money—will rush to support this,” Klein writes. “Remember, the administration had a very tough time getting Congress to approve $10 billion for the Education Jobs Fund back in the summer of 2010, when Democrats had healthy majorities in both chambers.”

For a simpler, graphic representation of the above analysis, see Tom Toles’ cartoon Friday in the Washington Post.

But do schools really need that $25 billion in construction funds. Well……yes, writes the Post’s Valerie Strauss. She notes that decades of research have shown a link between the condition of buildings and student health, attendance, teacher recruitment, and, most critically, student achievement.

Speaking of student achievement, read Peg Tyre’s critique of standardized testing on Freakonomics. (Thanks to This Week in Education for highlighting it.)  You no doubt have heard a lot of arguments against standardized tests, but Tyre’s is the most unique — and intriguing — that I’ve read in recent months.

Of course, there’s another side. And that’s part of what makes education policy so interesting and, sometimes, maddening. For a positive reassessment of testing, see “Putting Myself to the Test,” by Ama Nyamekye, in Edweek.

Lawrence Hardy|September 10th, 2011|Categories: Budgeting, School Buildings, Teachers, Uncategorized, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , |

NSBA backs Pres. jobs bill, hopes Congress will too

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?

Naomi Dillon|September 9th, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Programs, School Board News, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

Congress moves closer to a deal, that leaves out school construction funding

Well, it looks like Congress is moving closer to approving a stimulus package by the Dem’s self-imposed President’s Day holiday. But as the Washington Post reports, the original proposal has undergone a series of cuts and modifications, with two specific provisions still meeting resistance from the GOP.

And you guessed it. One of them is about schools. Deteriorating schools. Outdated schools. Crowded schools. Inadequate schools.  That’s what Republican congressmen who oppose providing roughly $20 billion in school construction funding should have to say. Then maybe it would be harder to justify why spending the cash to bring schools into the 21st century, while putting people to work, and reducing district energy dependence is a bad idea.

Sure, everyone has their hand out and is making the case why they deserve to get a piece of the stimulus package. But consider this:

The U.S. Green Building Council estimates that by improving energy efficiency, $20 billion could be saved in energy bills over the next decade. A recent study out of New Jersey finds that for every $1 billion spent on school construction and repair, 9,000 new jobs are created. More examples like this can be found in a brief prepared by the National School Boards Association.

Despite all of the convincing arguments, however, it doesn’t look likely that funding will be restored in the plan, meaning Philadelphia schools will lose $212 million, while Los Angeles Unified stands to lose out on $436 million. Use this interactive chart to find out, how much your district will lose in funding.

It’s a shortsightedness in Congress that will have a lasting impact on education and our competitiveness in the world market.

By the way, the other sticking point that’s holding up a finalized deal on the stimulus package? Medicaid payments to states. So the youngest and the oldest generation will both be shafted in the new New Deal.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|February 13th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, School Buildings|Tags: , |

How much will schools be included in Obama’s “New Deal”

Called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, it made sense that pundits and analysts would soon begin suggesting that a massive capital works program, like the one Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented, would be the best bet for steering the nation’s economy back onto firmer ground.

With the unemployment rate continuing to rise http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm , as companies respond to production decreases by scaling back their workforce, it apparently has become clear to President-elect Barack Obama that a national construction effort will become a signature piece of his economic recovery plan.

If Obama follows in the footsteps of FDR’s Works Progress Administration— the centerpiece of his New Deal initiative— than schools should see a surge of money injected into its facilities. Under the WPA, more than 4,000 schools were built and 30,000 repaired. In his weekly radio address, Obama has provided a preliminary glimpse of how he would dole out the money to schools, saying he would upgrade and modernize school buildings; repairing broken schools, while making them more energy efficient and connecting them to the Internet. Obama’s weekly address

But with more than a quarter of the roughly 126,000 schools across the country built before 1950 and about 45 percent built between 1950 and 1969, it won’t be an easy endeavor and it remains to be seen how much Obama is willing to invest to bring schools into the 21st century.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|December 15th, 2008|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance|Tags: , |
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