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Obama Unveils Education Plan in Jobs Speech
posted by: Alix | September 09, 2011, 07:54 PM   

Yesterday evening, President Obama made a speech before a joint session of Congress to gain support for his new $447 billion jobs bill to be introduced sometime next week. Among the many new spending initiatives, the president spent significant time discussing education and increased investments in hiring new teachers and modernizing schools with improvements and technology.

In his address, the president highlighted an inequity in our education system as compared to our national competitors; "It's not fair to American kids that while places like South Korea are adding teachers, in the U.S. they're being laid off," said President Obama. "This has to stop."

The president's plan would invest $25 billion of federal funds on school infrastructure to modernize and make improvements to an estimated 35,000 public schools, including spending on computer lab technology and emergency infrastructure repairs. Another $5 billion is expected to go to community colleges for repairs.

In conjunction with the funding for repairs, President Obama's plan would require an additional $35 billion to prevent teacher layoffs and to increase hiring. Experts estimate that the funds could potentially save 280,000 teacher jobs and support the hiring of thousands more across the country.

Following the speech, administration officials argued that the president's jobs package included provisions that, at one time or another, held widespread bipartisan support. While this is true in regard to the tax cut provisions, the education spending elements was considered an appeal to his base, rather than a serious legislation proposal with a strong chance of passage, according to analysis by Education Week.

Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce John Kline (R-MO) was not convinced. "Common sense tells us that putting the federal government in the business of school construction will only lead to higher costs and more regulations. It also tells us that another teacher union bailout will not ensure a quality education for our children," said Congressman Kline speaking for the Republicans on his committee.

The Obama campaign certainly realizes that they will need the grassroots support of the NEA and AFT to help get out the vote in the coming months. While the NEA has already endorsed Obama's re-election campaign, many status-quo teacher union positions stand in stark contrast to the Department of Education's ambitious reform proposals. Regardless of whether to plan will pass or not, President Obama is attempting to appease and rally his union base with these proposals.

Interestingly, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was not in attendance for the address as a precaution against a catastrophic event on the Capitol.

What do you think about President Obama's plan?
Comment below.

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written by Pat Washington County FL, September 10, 2011

Being a very rural public school, my district would have most of the money it needs if the President would remove regulations and allow fuel costs to go back near where they were when he took office. Our buses are required to drive long distances and its costs are only rising.

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