President Obama: American Jobs Act Will Prevent Up to 280,000 Teachers from Losing their Jobs

President Barack Obama tours the Lab School at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Oct. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama tours the Lab School at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Oct. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

The White House today released a report that outlines the devastating impact the recession has had on schools and students across the country. Teacher Jobs at Risk highlights the significant cuts in education spending that have resulted from state budget shortfalls since 2008, including the loss of nearly 300,000 teaching jobs across the country (see chart below).

And in the coming school year, without additional support, many school districts will have to make another round of difficult decisions. As a result of state and local funding cuts, as many as 280,000 teacher jobs could be at risk. Unless they receive federal assistance, many school districts will be forced to reduce the number of teachers in their classrooms, or turn to other measures such as shortening the school year or cutting spending on schoolbooks and supplies.

President Obama, speaking today in Texas, 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.”

The President was at Eastfield Community College, in Mesquite, Texas where he toured a pre-school before talking about the impact the American Jobs Act will have on schools, and on teachers, across the country. He told the crowd there that the stakes for addressing this situation are high, with “nothing less than our ability to compete in this 21st century economy” at risk.

This is why one of the central components of the American Jobs Act, which the President introduced last month at a Joint Session of Congress, is funding to avoid and reverse teacher layoffs now, and to provide support for the re-hiring and hiring of educators.

Specifically, the American Jobs Act will invest $30 billion to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators. If enacted, these teacher stabilization funds would help prevent layoffs and support the hiring or re-hiring of nearly 400,000 educators, includ¬ing teachers, guidance counselors, classroom assistants, afterschool personnel, tutors, and literacy and math coaches. These funds will ensure that schools are able to keep teachers in the classroom, preserve or extend the regular school day and school year, and maintain important afterschool activities.

The impact of this funding is clear:

    • In the states with the largest numbers of students, the American Jobs Act will support tens of thousands of educator jobs—California (37,300), Florida (25,900), Illinois (14,500), New York (18,000) and Texas (39,500).
    • Funding is targeted to the school districts most in need of support across the country, especially those with a high share of students living in poverty. The Department of Education projects that New York City will receive around $950 million, Los Angeles Unified School District will receive around $570 million, Dade County School District will receive around $250 million, and Houston and Dallas Independent School Districts will each receive more than $100 million.
    • Even in states with smaller student enrollments, the American Jobs Act will have a significant impact—supporting over a thousand educator jobs in states like Montana (1,400), Arkansas (4,100), Nevada (3,600), and Iowa (4,100). Medium-size school districts like those in Wake County, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee will receive funding ranging from $50 million to $75 million.

As the President said today in Texas, Americans cannot afford to wait for things to get better, it is time to act:

We are not people who sit back in tough times. We step up in tough times. We make things happen in tough times. We’ve been through tougher times before, and we got through them. We’re going to get through these to a brighter day, but we’re going to have to act. God helps those who help themselves. We need to help ourselves right now.

Let’s get together. Let’s get to work. Let’s get busy. Let’s pass this bill. Let’s make sure that we are shaping a destiny for our children that we are proud of, and let’s remind the entire world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on the planet.

16 Comments

  1. Really? Will he be able to prevent loss of teacher’s job? But at what cost? He has to radically change the system we live in. God bless America

  2. There are some teachers that have no clue on how to teach. In fact, in my school we have a teacher who can’t control the class. Her class is ran by her teaching assistant.

    The biggest problem I have with the whole education system is that we have gotten away from the basics. Teachers are no longer teachers, they are test teachers. They teach a child how to take a test and that is it. Education is not about teaching our children its about the money the school boards can make. I am fed up and have my children home schooled.

  3. Important components in this new proposed sytem is Training, Cetification, Compensation. Many of the teachers being laid of are underqualified, alternatively certified, and are just not performing. If you have a BA in anything else but Education, you are probably one of these “victims”. What’s left are some teachers that complain about money, communities and parents. If you refer to your pupils as “”Kiddos”, you are probably one of these teachers, who make excuses for their responsibilities. Then we have the Educational professionals. The few, the proud, the masters of thier fates, and the captains of their classrooms. There are teachers who live “no child left behind”, and know it’s more than a slogan.

    These are the teachers that best serve their pupils. These are the teachers we need in the classrooms and front officies. Only a reform in education will allow this to happen. Sometimes, budjet cuts, layoffs, resignations, and regulation is needed.

  4. This is a response to Sarah’s comment. Sarah, I can see your frustration but unless you are in the field of education and really do what is expected of teachers, you will not have come on too strong on teachers the way you did. Don’t forget, you are were you are because of a teacher. Not every teacher complain and if they do, is within reasons. A teacher’s job does not end within their contract hours. It continues 24/7, take their work home, while trying to manage family obligations, spend money out of their pockets to buy materials, even food for the least fortunate student who may need a a pair of shoes, food, shelter, stay for after-school activities, are involved in many committees (mandated by the district), buy and donate toys and clothes during christmas for the least fortunate student, etc. Teachers are under pressure to meet AYP, to make sure that students who are not on grade level, because they came from a poor country and did not receive the proper education, have to and must make sure they become proficient and at the grade level. In terms of the conferences and meetings, the majority are mandated by the district to provide teachers with professional development and strategies to improve and better their teaching. Conferences are important part of a teacher’s career to learn new strategies and find better practices to use in the classroom to help students. And by the way, lunches are not provided most of the time, so they have to buy their lunches. I can go on an on to tell you about the life of a teacher’s day. If what you mentioned in your e-mail is happening in some states, just like Fa., that doesn’t mean it is happening everywhere. In case you didn’t know, teachers are ‘UNDERPAID”. Let me leave you with a question. Do you have a favorite teacher? What’s the best memory you have about that teacher? Before I say something negative about teachers, I always remember mine who did everything possible to keep me in school, and she was underpaid. God bless!

  5. Money in education currently is like flushing it down the toilet. Extremely, misspent. Examples: Snacks for teachers meetings adding up to more than several jobs in a single county, what must that be over the whole country, not to mention that it is candy and cookies which no one really needs and health care costs (free to teachers in most places) is rising. In one district about 10% a year which as we know is paid for with tax dollars of either the sales or income kind.
    Substitutes being used to extent so that the teachers during the school day can attend conferences, resulting in actually paying two people. The conferences are frequent and repetetive. They are really just vacations. Example: Conferences in Orlando, where the district pays travel and hotel for the teachers (and the whole family has a nearly free vacation, this really happens).
    Ipads for teachers, who were just issued laptops, an IPad cannot benefit a classroom, but the laptop can project up on the screen for all the kids to see. This is nothing more than the newest wiz bang thing.
    Teachers enter the profession of teaching and then complain their whole career. News flash… no one ever thinks teachers are paid enough I DO!!!! ask your favorite teacher if they get “stipends” for participating in extra projects, even during the work day they are already being paid for, this is BIG money folks. Also, retirees come back to work at really nice hourly wages as “specialists”, and keep younger workers from having those positions. Also, when I came up the class size was not 22 kids with a teacher’s Assistant and we managed just fine.
    This MBA would like to see someone look into the detail of what is being spent in education. Just ask how much is being spent on candy and cookies and is hidden in the “instructional materials and supplies” code in the chart of accounts. If Education were a business, it would have someone looking over how the money is spent, not just how many teachers we can buy. I could go on and on, with real life examples. Spending is out of control on “STUFF” that could be done without.

    • Not smart enough to be a teacher, huh Sarah. You could have went to college like a big girl and had some of the perks of teachers too.

      Well I am a teacher and let me tell you whats going on in my school. My school has not given us a raise in five years. Has the cost of living gone up at all in the last five years? We actually took a pay cut because to make up for the money the state has taken away, per pupil, we had to lay off teachers. We pay more into our insurance now just to save jobs. We don’t eat cookies and candy at functions because our school has a wellness policy. We must get graduate credits to keep our teaching certificates which costs money, and then when we do renew we pay for fingerprints ($65) and the processing fee of our certificate $100). We are responisible for 130 kids per day of all backgrounds and learning abilities. We don’t turn kids away. And yes we do get paid for things like coaching or being a class advisor. I coach Varstiy basketball counting the time I put in (year-round) to be competitive with other schools it equals out to be about 32 cents/hour. I volunteer at every home Jr. High and High school football game we have, am a memeber of a team at our school to reform the behavior of students frequently in trouble. I have been in education for eight years, the first four being at an alternative school, to help troubled youths try to get through high school. In my humble opinion, I do a lot.

      Tell me, What do you do from 8-5pm everyday?

      By the way I was pink slipped last week. Thanks for your care and concern.

      • Jeff, sorry to hear about your situation but thanks for your response to Sarah’s comments. You said many of the things I wanted to say. I’ve been a teacher for 28 years so I think I can speak to the issue. First of all, education is not a business. We are educating children not building machines or packaging a product. Sarah, I don’t know how long ago you were in school, but your comment about 22 kids and a teaching assistant really bothers me. I’m a special education teacher and we are serving a lot of children in public schools who wouldn’t have been there even 25 years ago. When is the last time you spent time in a classroom observing? Do you even know what you are talking about? Teachers are paid enough? In our distrist we have not had a raise for a few years as well. In fact, with the rising cost of health insurance (which is not paid for by my employer) I actually bring home less money now than I did five years ago and yet the cost of everything continues to go up. As for the BIG money in stipends and the “vacations” to Orlando, let me know the school that is happening in because I’m ready to apply. And you know what, if my school has bought me a couple of cookies over the years, I think I deserved them!

      • Way to go Jeff. Here is a copy of my response to Sarah. It is unbelievable what some people think of us, educators.

        “This is a response to Sarah’s comment. Sarah, I can see your frustration but unless you are in the field of education and really do what is expected of teachers, you will not have come on too strong on teachers the way you did. Don’t forget, you are were you are because of a teacher. Not every teacher complain and if they do, is within reasons. A teacher’s job does not end within their contract hours. It continues 24/7, take their work home, while trying to manage family obligations, spend money out of their pockets to buy materials, even food for the least fortunate student who may need a a pair of shoes, food, shelter, stay for after-school activities, are involved in many committees (mandated by the district), buy and donate toys and clothes during christmas for the least fortunate student, etc, etc, etc. Teachers are under pressure to meet AYP, to make sure that students who are not on grade level, because they came from a poor country and did not receive the proper education, have to and must make sure they become proficient and at the grade level. In terms of the conferences and meetings, the majority are mandated by the district to provide teachers with professional development and strategies to improve and better their teaching. Conferences are important part of a teacher’s career to learn new strategies and find better practices to use in the classroom to help students. And by the way, lunches are not provided most of the time, so they have to buy their lunches. I can go on an on to tell you about the life of a teacher’s day. If what you mentioned in your e-mail is happening in some states, just like Fa., that doesn’t mean it is happening everywhere. In case you didn’t know, teachers are ‘UNDERPAID”. Let me leave you with a question. Do you have a favorite teacher? What’s the best memory you have about that teacher? Before I say something negative about teachers, I always remember mine who did everything possible to keep me in school, and she was underpaid. God bless!

    • Your lack of grammar, organizational capacities, and general bad-attitude do bode well for someone who ‘managed just fine’ in school when you ‘came up’. Sounds to me, Sarah, that you did rather poorly and are bitter, OR you did okay but are now stuck at home without providing an income. I certainly wouldn’t hire you to do anything in my business that requires communicating with other people. Actually, your sentences are so badly constructed, I have a difficult time translating them into English.

      You speak of technology in the classroom and exhibit zero-understanding of how these things work. As an technology coordinator and teacher in an overseas American school, I find your blowhard statement to be biased and…. well…. wrong!

      Overall, you exhibit ignorance of how the educational system works, how teachers are required to remain certified and up-to-date with their qualifications. You are obviously not a professional in anything, except maybe pedicures. Would you rather have a teacher attend professional-development courses and conferences and the students be released from school? Your misconceived notion that hiring a substitute to cover a teacher costs a school twice as much is so maligned- you’ve no idea!

      Seriously, stop listening to right-wing radio/tv pundits like Limbaugh or those other scary American O’Reilly types. Listen to the educators, such as Jeff who posted above, that really know what is happening and THEN get involved.

    • WOW! Where do you live, I need to come and work for that school system. I have been a teachers in three different states and the pay is about the same. I bring home $2100.00 per month, I work from 7am to 4:30 pm (if I’m lucky), I bring home papers to grade, I call parents from home to meet their time schdules, I have to pay to make copies for my 178 students ($70/mth), I have to pay for internet ($50/mth), I buy ink and paper for my class ($20 -$30/mth), we do not have janitors for the classrooms, I don’t have enough books for my students (I have 28, my largest class is 36 and no student has one to keep at home), I pay for insurance ($570/mth – basic only), we don’t get paid for conferences or workshops we actually get deducted for that day, we have to pay for the conferences that we are at times required to attend for certification, I can go on and on with this, but I think that no matter what I or others say you will not believe it.

      I feel bad for you that you think so little of education and teachers. I hope that you have not infected your child or children with your negative attitude.

      PS. Teachers typically supply their own food and snacks and no we do not get free lunch we actually have to pay more than the students do ($4.25 is the current cost at my school for teachers and adults, students $2.50).

  6. I am very glad that the President chose to target education jobs within the recently released jobs bill. The need for more funding to hire and keep teachers on staff is evident within the education system. There are many news articles about the record number of pink slips issued to teachers each spring (http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/pink-slip-deadline-arrives-today-thousands-teachers-laid-9220). Unfortunately, in many states the teachers that are pink-slipped and eventually laid off are simply those with the fewest years of experience. Very few states currently perform teacher excess layoffs based on performance. I am from Indiana, a state where a law was just passed to ensure that those lay-off decisions are made on performance criteria rather than time spent in the school.

    While this additional funding will prevent many teachers from losing their jobs as the article above details, I wish that the funding would be tied to future layoffs being made on performance criteria rather than experience measures.

    I understand doing this would be much too controversial, but a suggestion or resolution from the Department of Education or the White House could encourage more states to adopt laws similar to those of Indiana.

  7. I lost my position as an Education-to-Careers Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools on June 19th, 2010. I had to draw down my pension in an attempt to save my condo and assist my only daughter with college expenses. Thus far I have been unable to obtain any teaching position due to 2 Masters and being a PhD candidate I am too expensive to hire as a classroom teacher. My unemployment is running out and I don’t know what to do. I am willing to relocate to another state for employment. Is there any one who can assist me? Thanks

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