U.S. Education Secretary Visits Charter School in New York City, Discusses State-by-State Estimates

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U.S. Education Secretary Visits Charter School in New York City, Discusses State-by-State Estimates

February 19, 2009

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today visited Explore Charter School in Brooklyn to discuss the importance of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in saving jobs and advancing reforms. He discussed the state-by-state estimates of new education revenues included in the stimulus bill and set a goal of releasing a third of the more than $100 billion in funding within 30 days.

Following is the Secretary's prepared remarks:

Thank you Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein and President Weingarten:

All across America states are hurting and schools are facing catastrophic cuts.

California is something like $40 billion dollars in the hole. My home state of Illinois is about $3 or $4 billion short as well. They are all cutting education.

Recognizing this threat, Congress and the Obama administration are investing a large share of the stimulus funding to stabilize our states so we can protect kids, save teaching jobs—and also drive reforms.

The need has never been greater.

Despite all of the progress of great leaders like Joel Klein, Mayor Bloomberg and Randi Weingarten, our schools are still struggling.

Too many kids drop out. Too many who graduate aren't ready for college or work.

We're not just facing an economic crisis in America. We're facing an education crisis. A University of Washington report says up to 600,000 education jobs are at risk.

But we're also facing a historic opportunity to remake public education—a once-in-a-lifetime chance to lift the quality of education for every child in America.

I call it the perfect storm for reform.

It starts with what I call the Barack effect—the fact that we have a president and a first lady who came from modest circumstances and could have been among those who dropped out—but instead they rose to the top through education and hard work.

The symbolic power of their success cannot be exaggerated. To put it simply—they have made education cool and hip and something for every child to imitate.

For low-income, minority kids—they see the President and say, "I want to be smart like him."

Second—we have great leadership in Congress who understand that this issue—above all—is the foundation of a strong economic future.

We have to educate ourselves to a stronger economy. That means we have to invest in children and make college more affordable. It's that simple.

Third, we actually have the money—well over $100 billion dollars of one-time money to stave off these layoffs and boost critical education programs. A lot of this money will be tied to higher standards and reforms that are desperately needed.

And finally, we have the proven strategies for success—including many right here in New York City.

Districts like New York are remaking public education in America with bold and innovative new learning models, higher standards and teacher quality initiatives. We must support those efforts. We can't go backwards.

That's why this money is so important.

And it's also important to have strong partners like Randi Weingarten. She will be a critical partner in advancing President Obama's education agenda and I salute her for her leadership.

Today, the state-by-state numbers are on-line, listing the funding amounts for all of the key education programs in the stimulus bill.

Let me tell you what New York State is going to get from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—just for education:

  • There will be over $3 billion for state stabilization to help the state balance its budget. There is no better way to stimulate the economy in the short term and the long term than to keep teachers teaching and keep kids learning.
  • New York State will also receive almost $1 billion in Title I funding which targets low-income students.
  • There will be another $850 Million in funding for students with disabilities.
  • There is also money for early childhood, vocational rehab, work study and a host of other programs.

All told, New York State is going to get approximately $4.8 billion dollars in additional education funding over the next two years.

With the City of New York accounting for about 40% of the state's student population—we're talking about roughly $1.9 billion dollars for New York City Schools and colleges.

On top of that there will be $476 million in Pell Grants for low-income college students and hundreds of millions in college tuition tax credits for middle-income families.

Finally, there are billions of dollars in construction bonds and stabilization funds that can go to school modernization—creating jobs and classrooms for the 21st century.

We need to invest this money quickly thoughtfully and transparently to protect kids, create jobs and drive reforms.

We need to see every state moving toward reform—but we want to make sure they know the money is coming in order to save those jobs.

I also want to mention the Race to the Top Fund—which is incentive money to reward states that most aggressively embrace reforms.

These include higher standards, teacher quality, accountability, data and growth models and all of the best practices in education today.

I fully expect New York City and New York State to put together a great proposal. In many ways you are already setting the standard—including the pay for performance program here that was pioneered by Joel and Randi.

But we all have more work to do.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Congress, that work will continue and we will move forward in creating a world-class education system that prepares every child for success in college, in work and in life.

Thank you.