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

American Jobs Act Will Create Jobs Today and in the Future

Secretary Duncan and White House advisor Melody Barnes visit a classroom in Milwaukee (Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams)

President Obama’s American Jobs Act will make immediate investments that will help today’s students compete in tomorrow’s economy.

The Jobs Act will provide $30 billion to support teachers’ jobs and another $30 billion to modernize and renovate schools. Both are essential ingredients to the President’s plan to create and preserve jobs to move the economy forward. But they also will ensure children get the preparation needed to compete for jobs in the knowledge economy of the 21st Century.

When the Education and the Economy bus tour stopped in Milwaukee on Friday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes emphasized the critical role that the Jobs Act will play in creating jobs today and in the future.

In a town hall at the School of Career and Technical Education, Barnes pointed out that the average Milwaukee public school was built 70 years ago. The Jobs Act will provide $169 million for Milwaukee to modernize and renovate their buildings, ensuring they have the facilities to prepare students to compete for careers tomorrow.

“We can teach students about science and technology, but if they can’t put their hands on, it doesn’t make sense to them,” Barnes said.

Secretary Duncan watches the President's speech aboard the back-to-school tour bus.

The funding for teachers will support 280,000 jobs across the country and 7,400 in Wisconsin alone. Without it, schools will have to make tough choices to increase class sizes or cut programs in the arts and other subjects essential to a well-rounded curriculum.

“None of that is good for our children across the country,” Secretary Duncan said at the event.

The President outlined the American Jobs Act in a speech to Congress on Thursday night.

“There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation,” the President said.  “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.  And everything in this bill will be paid for.”