October 30, 2009
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
Recovery Funds Are a Lifeline for Education
In a speech today, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created and saved at least 1 million jobs.
Washington—The federal recovery funds provided a much-needed lifeline for states, schools, educators and students by saving valuable school programs and thousands of jobs, allowing students to begin the school year with minimal disruption in the worst recession in decades. Vice President Biden said today that the government estimates 325,000 education jobs were saved by the Recovery Act. In education, saving jobs translates into educational opportunity for children.
Continued, smart investment in areas like education and healthcare is absolutely critical to the country’s long-term economic strength. The Recovery Act demonstrated the administration’s and Congress’ commitment to public schools. Few things are more important to democracy than providing all our students with a first-class education. And in the short run, saving these jobs has helped sustain the economies of communities across the nation.
There still have been layoffs, given the magnitude of the downturn. Overall, 124,000 jobs in public education have been lost—that includes an estimated 40,000 teacher layoffs, as well as support staff, college professors and others. However, without the 325,000 education jobs that were saved as a result of the Recovery Act funds, the cuts to public education would have been much worse.
State and local governments are still facing tremendous deficits for next year, which will further bind schools and colleges. The challenge remains to ensure that public education receives the funding needed to educate America’s children next fall.
Especially in these difficult times, our schools serve two core functions—they must be a haven for children when other parts of their lives are in turmoil, and they must be a central force for restoring America’s economic strength. We are grateful for this administration’s support of our public schools, as we pursue our shared agenda of providing young people with a well-rounded, world-class education that will enable them—and our country—to compete in the new economy.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.