House Passes Jobs Act, Brings Money for Education
Legislation now needs support of Senate
By Carrie Lewis
Thursday, December 17, 2009 -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Jobs for Main Street Act, a legislative package that provides essential resources to save and create education positions, spur much-needed school construction, and aid college students.
The education dollars provided in the Jobs for Main Street Act – both the Education Jobs Fund and school construction bonds – will save or create hundreds of thousands of educator jobs and will provide a critical infusion of funds into struggling communities. These dollars, coupled with the increases in education funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the FY 2009 and 2010 appropriations packages, reflect an understanding of the importance of adequate investment in education to the overall well-being and strength of our nation.
Action now turns to the Senate, where that chamber is expected to act on a jobs package in January.
These victories for public education would not have been possible without the efforts of NEA affiliates and members across the nation throughout the year. Through letter-writing campaigns, cyberlobbying and face-to-face lobbying, NEA members stressed to legislators the importance of the education money going into the jobs package. NEA also worked very closely with our partner intergovernmental organizations to secure the support of governors for our proposals, and actively participated in a Save Main Street Jobs coalition with AFT, AFSCME, AFL-CIO and SEIU.
The Jobs for Main Street Act includes several key provisions that will make a real difference for educators, public schools, and local communities:
* Education Jobs Fund -- $23 billion that will help states retain or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years. This Fund -- included at the urging of NEA -- will have an immediate impact, as saving an education job involves no wait time to draw up contracts or acquire materials. It will also help keep schools fully staffed with teachers and education support professionals at a time when many students are experiencing great stress. A recent University of California study found that children in families where the head of the household had lost a job were 15 percent more likely to repeat a grade.
* School Construction -- Over $4 billion for school construction, renovation and modernization to modify bonds created under ARRA to make them more attractive to school districts and investors. As a result, it will create greater opportunities to build, repair, and modernize schools, advance student achievement and generate construction related jobs in local communities in every state.
* College Work Study -- $300 million to support low- and moderate-income students who work while attending college. Together with institutional matching funds, this funding will help approximately 250,000 college students stay in school.
View a complete summary of the package here.
Passage of this legislation builds on the historic increases in federal education funding passed this year, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and both the fiscal year 2009 and 2010 education funding packages. Overall, bills enacted in 2009 increased funding for the U.S. Department of Education by $274.7 billion – an increase of 364 percent over 2008 levels.
Legislative Action Center
Tell the Senate to pass a jobs package that includes education funding like the House-passed bill.