Volume 16 Issue 2
By Dina Martin
California could save 37,000 teaching jobs as well as obtain millions of dollars in federal funding to modernize dilapidated schools and colleges if President Obama’s American Jobs Act is approved.
The Jobs Act, introduced by the president in September, is designed to jumpstart economic growth and job creation. The bill includes resources to prevent educator layoffs and rebuild public schools and colleges. Calling for $30 billion to help prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs nationwide, the Jobs Act could save 37,000 educator jobs in California.
Despite an uphill battle that is expected in Congress, representatives from California’s congressional delegation joined CTA, the superintendent of public instruction and several community organizations at a number of events in San Jose, Sacramento, Modesto and Los Angeles in support of the act.
The bill received a setback on Oct. 11 when the Senate blocked consideration of the $447 billion bill. However, portions of the bill may still come before the body later this month.
In addition to helping prevent teacher layoffs, the American Jobs Act would provide funds to modernize at least 35,000 public schools and colleges across the country, supporting new science labs, Internet-ready classrooms, and renovations in rural and urban schools. The president also proposed a $5 billion investment in modernizing community colleges.
Speaking at a Modesto news conference at Mark Twain Junior High School with state Superintendent Tom Torlakson, Modesto Teachers Association President Dana Filippi spoke to the need for modernization funds.
“Mark Twain Junior High School, like many of our schools in Modesto, is now 60 years old. It’s got good bones, but the years have taken their toll,” Filippi said. “President Obama’s plan to set aside money to renovate public school facilities and build go a long way in offsetting the cuts we’ve had in education funding here in Modesto and throughout California.”
In San Jose, Marisa Hanson, president of the East Side Teachers Association, talked about how the federal funds could prevent further layoffs.
“Our high school counselors each have caseloads of about 1,000 students, an impossible ratio. Library cuts mean our students get two choices: only one day a week of library access, or only one hour a day,” Hanson said. “Restoring more teachers to the classroom will help protect the future work force of Silicon Valley, and the future of our state.”
The president pushed the bill at a White House news conference on Oct. 5, and he castigated Republicans for putting Wall Street before Main Street. “It’s now up to all the senators and hopefully all the members of the House to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to commonsense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” he said, adding that Wall Street protests are “giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”