In its efforts to promote a fledgling jobs plan aimed at stimulating the economy and improving employment numbers, the Obama administration is eager to show that its legislation would be a boon to Virginia public schools.
Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the bill would be worth $1.1 billion to the state’s public schools; $425 million would go toward upgrading schools and classrooms and $742 million would help prevent teacher layoffs—10,800 of them, according to the department’s count.
“America stands at a crossroads. We can roll the dice and hope to educate America’s kids amid teacher layoffs and dilapidated school buildings, or we use this opportunity to give our students the world-class education they deserve—with a strong teacher corps working in modern facilities,” Duncan said last week.
Top Republicans have called the plan an irresponsible expenditure that would saddle the country with debt. The White House has turned its campaign to public education, saying opponents of the bill are putting politics above American schoolchildren. That effort could very well be inconsequential, according to many analysts, who say the bill has little shot at passage.
Many Virginia educators say the bill would come at the right time—just as the last round of stimulus funding expires, leaving some schools at the edge of a so-called funding cliff. Others say that periodic infusions of federal cash make it difficult to establish long-term financial plans, leaving school divisions at the mercy of an unpredictable ebb and flow of government funds.
“Overall, the President’s American Jobs Act plan will invest $30 billion in enhancing the condition of schools— with $25 billion going to K-12 schools for repair, renovation and modernization,” according to the Education Department.