Putting Our Teachers Back to Work: Stephanie Harris Walter


Stephanie Harris Walker, Putting Our Teachers Back to Work.

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

“My name is Stephanie Harris Walter.  I am a 43-year-old, married mother of two beautiful children, and I have been a teacher for 13 years.  Since moving to Ohio several years ago, I have taught high school English and History specializing in the 11th and 12th grades — most recently at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.  Every day, I gave my best to prepare each of my students with the skills they need to enter the private sector, the military, or move on to higher education despite the challenging conditions at JCVS, such as its leaky roof and outdated technology in the classroom.  To balance its budget last year, Jefferson County School District laid off a number of teachers and education support staff, including me.  Since losing my teaching job, every morning I wait by the phone hoping for a possible sub assignment to make ends meet. I only hope I have an opportunity to return to my students and continue to support my family.”

President Obama’s American Jobs Act would invest $30 billion to make sure that teachers like Stephanie and 400,000 educators would stay on the job, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more.  Under the American Jobs Act, Ohio would immediately receive over $1 billion to put Stephanie and 14,200 Ohio educators back to work in the classroom.

The American Jobs Act will also modernize at least 35,000 public schools – investments that will create local jobs while improving classrooms, and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs.  Ohio will receive $985,500,000 in funding to support as many as 12,800 jobs – fixing our crumbling schools, making classroom sizes smaller and more energy efficient.   As Stephanie Walter shared, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School desperately needs that support to fix its leaking roof and crumbling infrastructure.  Through the American Jobs Act, we can put hard-working teachers like Stephanie back on the job at a modernized school that every family and child deserves.

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (290MB) | mp3 (28MB)

Speaking this past Tuesday in Texas, President Obama compared the situation here with South Korea, where their President said they can’t hire teachers fast enough:

They call them “nation builders” — that’s what they call teachers in Korea, “nation builders,” because they know that educating their children is the best way to make sure their economy is growing, make sure that good jobs are locating there, making sure they’ve got the scientists and the engineers and the technicians who can build things and ship them all around the world. That’s what he understands. And the whole country supports him. Here in America, we’re laying off teachers in droves. It makes no sense. It has to stop. It has to stop.

Please share your story about how the American Jobs Act will positively impact you or your community. Stephanie Harris Walter is a member of the National Education Association — a supporter of the American Jobs Act.

Brad Jenkins is an Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement.


  1. I am caught in the proverbial “Catch 22.” I have a BS in education, a master’s and have nearly completed another master’s but have no job. I have to keep taking classes to stay certified but now have “educated” myself right out of the job market. I too spend most mornings hoping for a call to substitute teach. Meanwhile, our classrooms are packed with 30+ children in an elementary classroom, my teaching friends are annually threatened with layoff, and all I hear is rhetoric about improving teacher quality. Get realistic – cap the number of children in a classroom, make a master’s degree the norm, and pay teachers more than you pay the babysitter.

  2. I am a career changer who answered the call for business people to become teachers. I worked in IT for 20 years and when the tech bubble burst I decided to return to school and use my technical skills and science knowledge (BA in Biology) to become a science teacher. I struggled fromthe salary reduction and using my own money to accumulate materials to provide a rigourous, inquiry based curriculm for middle school students. I have found that the politics of schools works against the students having a sound education and that good teachers are not appreciated in the system. Now I am unemployed but willing to teach. Education reform is needed and teachers should be respected for the life experience,skills and sincere desire to prepare our children to take up the mantle in the future. Younger teachers does not mean they are better . Life experience has been greatly underrated in the educational system we have today.

  3. The teaching jobs are available, however, due to administrators fear of low test scores resulting in hiring subs to justify failure without a lost of their jobs. Instead of holding teachers and administrators accountable for test scores, the parents must assume the responsiblity for discipline at home, which includes study time like Asian parents. All job vacancies in education, under the No Child Left Behind Act, should be posted on the state agency website.

  4. All the state bureaucratic rules, frameworks, Praxis testing and silly policies make it impossible for intelligent people to get into the classrooms and help kids learn what they really need to know. Couple this with tight budgets, district policies and politics and it is almost guaranteed that these kids will learn almost nothing.

    The roloy-poly, 30-something teachers with squirrel nuts for brains will not provide what is required for global competitiveness even when they sit in on phony, university workshops.

    Without radical, education reform, the nation will contnue to slide. Since the status quo has hijacked the education reform initiatives, we will continue to see business as usual with no hope and no future for our nation’s children or our country.

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