American Jobs Act Will Invest in Education Now

Carl Schurz students greet Secretary Duncan in Chicago. (Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams)

At the final event of the “Education and the Economy” Back-to-School Bus Tour, Secretary Arne Duncan returned to his hometown with an urgent message: Our country needs to invest in education today.

During a roundtable discussion at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, Duncan reviewed some of what he learned during the three-day, six-state tour where he met with teachers, parents, students, administrators, and community leaders. The sobering news is that districts are continue to struggle financially and are facing tough choices in this schools year.

In Pittsburgh, the district is considering eliminating extracurricular activities. In Cleveland, the district may have to lay off teachers in the middle of the school year. “Think about what it will mean to students to see those teachers disappear,” he told the audience at Schurz, which include Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Richard Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn, and other city and state leaders.

Secretary Duncan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a panel discussion in Chicago. (Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams)

In Milwaukee, art, music, and physical education teachers may face layoffs. “When you lose art, music, and physical education, none of that’s good for children,” he said.

Duncan urged Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, which President Obama had unveiled the night before in a speech to Congress. You can read the transcript here.

The bill will allocate $30 billion to support teacher jobs and $30 billion for school modernization and renovation. In Illinois alone, the bill would provide $1.24 billion for teacher jobs – enough to support 14,500 jobs for one school year. Chicago would receive $609 million to renovate and modernize schools, with another $503 million available for the rest of the state.

Based on what he learned on the tour, Duncan recognizes the urgency facing states and districts across the country.

“If Congress passes this bill, we’ll move the money to state and districts as fast as we can,” Duncan said.

Click here for state-by-state information on the American Jobs Act.

David Hoff
Office of Communications and Outreach


  1. The 3 R’s are basic;

    but Critical Thinking and Debate are right up there. Ethics is considered a religion, so it is illegal to teach ethics in public schools. But when I say ethics, I’m talking about the tools for evaluation, Critical Thinking; predicting consequences. Which falls in line with Scientific Methodology and STEM education.

    My problem with increasing salaries of instructors, is that the school systems teach how to become an employee. Why isn’t starting one’s own business and building a business within one’s means a focused effort within school systems? If you want a booming economy, then the students need to be taught how to create their own cash flows. When no one is hiring, the choice is to start your own business. I’ve done this several times and I’ve put myself through college that way instead of working for someone else.

    I had proposed to several colleges and the Dept of Education that school systems should become self-supporting through college contract agreements with the students. Five percent of every dollar of profit from graduates goes back into all of the school systems that educated them to include public schools. In return the students would have a full ride scholarship; and for school systems that perform well, a stipend.

    Schools would have incentive to graduate students that would excel in whatever professional path they would choose. Schools that better prepared their students would pay their instructors more to increase profits through providing SBA support groups, patent farms, copyright collectives, global marketing… schools would become integrated into the business systems.

    This is what ED tries to do with industry partnerships. But the current methodologies are ineffective.

    Accreditation “requires” (i.e. provides significant scoring) related to tracking students throughout their professional careers, and to feedback their experiences into course curriculi. I have yet to find a school that does so effectively; tracking alumi is pitiful. Utilization of Alumni is even worse. The Board of Regents have no insight as to how to approach the business of education as a system of systems.

    Ergo, my reluctance to support increased wages for educators; the board of education squanders public funding. There is no real “continuous improvement”, only changes in technology.

  2. Its great to ear that the Federal Goberment is investing money on education but if they dont follow up, how the states used that amount of money, its like spending on nothing. That’s what happened in Puerto Rico, the Federal Goberment sends millions of dollar anually and the school system still on the 18th. century. We need more supervision and monitoring from the Federal Authorities over the D.E. of Puerto Rico.

  3. I am currently a teacher working in the US Territory of American Samoa. Although it is a beautiful place to live the financial inconsisitencies that occur with the educational department are ludicrous. today is supposed to be our payday and due to the ineffectiveness of an outdated system, many of us will not receive a check today, tomorrow or even Wednesday, the nearest day is Friday!!! I keep hearing how this is normal and happens often but my question is why? And why does everyone continue to just take it. I have no money in my account or credit cards and no family members to call and ask for money. So how do my family and I survive? Why does this happen so often? Who is here to protect our teachers and teacher rights? You come to work on time, you do your job and you service the students but yet we cannot get paid on time. I am surprised there is any morale at all…….. When is this going to end and who is going to make sure it gets better??????

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