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ARRA Anniversary Underscores Need for Job Creation

By Cynthia McCabe and Tim Walker

February 17, 2010 -- Today marks the one-year anniversary of the historic American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enactment. Passage of this legislation marked a huge victory for education, with unprecedented funding increases targeted directly to local school districts. ARRA included increases for Title I and IDEA, a new state fiscal stabilization fund, and school construction bonds. As a result, funding for the Department of Education increased to $159.4 billion — an increase of 169 percent.
 
One year later, ARRA has been credited with creating or saving more than 300,000 education jobs and the state stabilization fund has been touted as one of its most effective successes. 

"We are grateful to President Obama and Congress for passing legislation last year to jumpstart the nation’s economy," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved and created jobs that fueled local economies, strengthened public education and brought relief to countless middle-class families. Absent the Recovery Act, many more middle-class workers would have lost their jobs. The Recovery Act allowed us to address long-neglected infrastructure issues and support critical reform efforts in our schools that will help our children receive the education they need to compete in the global economy of the 21st century."
 
But there is still more work to do and Congress must act quickly to pass a jobs package that builds on this success.

The deep recession has left local and state governments facing unprecedented shrinking revenues as they develop FY2011 budgets and they will be forced to address historic shortfalls when funding under the Recovery Act expires. Deep cuts to public services including education will mean a loss of jobs at the very time Congress is focusing on creating new jobs. Just last week, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers called the fiscal relief to states ‘one of the triumphs’ of the Recovery Act, saying it had ‘more bite than we would have thought.’

The National Education Association is urging the Senate to pass a bill similar to the Jobs for Main Street Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December. That bill includes an Education Jobs Fund that will help states retain or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years and funds for school construction, renovation and modernization.

“The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed jobs legislation that includes critical aid to states to avert layoffs of middle-class Americans who provide crucial public services like education," said Van Roekel. "NEA is urging the Senate to take quick action on legislation that will maintain and create jobs that build America, help students achieve, keep school doors open and students fed. The need for passage of this legislation is critical and urgent.” 

Saving and creating education jobs is a particularly effective way to jumpstart the economy. Additional federal money for public education will have an immediate impact on improving the employment picture in recession-worn communities. Without it, state legislatures will be looking at historic budget deficits, likely leading to widespread layoffs in public service jobs and undermining the nation’s economic recovery.

“Laying off educators is a sure path to stunting innovation and impeding America’s prosperity,” said Van Roekel. “And we hope that the jobs bill will include additional funding to help rebuild and restore the nation’s crumbling public school buildings.”

Thanks to letter-writing campaigns, cyberlobbying and face-to-face lobbying, NEA affiliates and members across the nation were instrumental in persuading members of the House to pass the Jobs for Main Street Act, and they are now turning their attention to the Senate.

Even the staunchest supporters of the stimulus concede that the misinformation campaign surrounding the bill’s effectiveness has been largely successful. While Republicans in Congress have continually dismissed it as wasteful spending, the stimulus has helped curtail the effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

 

 

Video

Recovery is Local

Recovery is Local
America’s Mayors Speak Out for the Recovery Act


TAKE ACTION

Tell the Senate to Support Education Funding in Jobs Package!


RELATED LINKS

NEA Today Action: Education Jobs

See how many education jobs the House-passed bill will be saved/created in your state.

See how much funding states will lose once monies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expire, unless Congress provides more funding in a jobs/economic recovery bill.

Read more from the Obama Administration about the ARRA success stories.