“I don’t want teachers on the unemployment line. I want them in the classroom,” Secretary Duncan said last Friday at an American Jobs Act roundtable in Richmond, Va. “This is really a moment of truth for the country,” Arne said. Either invest in education, he added, or other countries will pass us by.
The American Jobs Act would provide $60 billion for education, in the form of jobs for educators and upgrades to schools and community colleges. Virginia alone stands to receive $425 million for public school upgrades, and $742 million to preserve up to 10,000 teacher jobs. Richmond superintendent Yvonne Brandon said that federal money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and additional job-saving funding had prevented teacher layoffs, but with that money now spent, Richmond faces a $16 million deficit for the next school year.
“In this budget cycle, everything is on the table,” Brandon said. “I’m afraid [teacher layoffs] may have to be part of the conversation this year.”
In addition to participating in a roundtable, Duncan toured Richmond Community High School—a 2011 Blue Ribbon School—where students and teachers showed the Secretary the need for infrastructure upgrades at their 86-year-old campus. He saw outdated science labs and leaky ceilings and heard about duct-taped textbooks and slow computers.
Arne noted the visit on his Twitter account and asked other students and teachers to join the conversation:
The American Jobs Act proposes a major investment that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools, and support 280,000 teacher jobs nationwide. See what impact the Act will have in your state, and read a complete overview of the American Jobs Act here.