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Campaign 101: Obama Wants $25 Billion to Prevent Teacher Layoffs

And with this morning's report, the campaign opens a new education front and attack strategy against Paul Ryan's budget.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

August 18, 2012 - 3:00 am

President Obama released a 20-page report this morning intended to make a case for sinking $25 billion into preventing teacher layoffs and supporting “hundreds of thousands of teacher and other education jobs.”

This latest “investment” plan from the White House is destined to become a hot topic on the campaign trail, as the report indicates more than 300,000 local education jobs have been lost since the end of the recession and the president ties further projected losses to the GOP budget plan.

The national student-teacher ratio increased by 4.6 percent from 2008 to 2010, the White House said, “rolling back all the gains made since 2000.”

“Think about what that means for our country. At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America; these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year,” Obama said. “That’s the opposite of what we should be doing as a country.”

The report also opens up a new strategic front against GOP vice presidential pick Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), claiming that the House Republican budget slashes education funding for special-ed kids and would leave even more teachers jobless. “If cuts were distributed evenly, this budget would imply $2.7 billion in cuts to basic Title I education grants, meaning that nearly 38,000 teachers and aides could lose their jobs as a result of cuts to Title I spending alone,” the report states. “Cuts would also be made to early childhood education and special education, significantly impairing schools’ ability to best serve their students.”

“That’s backwards.  That’s wrong.  That plan doesn’t invest in our future; it undercuts our future,” said Obama. “If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible – from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

The report places a heavy focus on class size in its arguments, providing figures through 2010 and noting that school administrators were projecting both increased class sizes and additional layoffs ahead.

“Parents know from common sense that laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, and cutting back on crucial programs hurts students,” the report states. “And a detailed look at the evidence – based on well-designed randomized experiments – confirms that larger class sizes have lasting negative effects: lowering high-school graduation rates, reducing the chance that students take college entrance exams like the ACT or SAT, and lowering the chance of college enrollment and completion.”

Citing an “unprecedented decline in local education jobs,” the White House noted that Obama’s teacher provision of the American Jobs Act “remains stalled in Congress.”

“The Congressional Republican plan could result in 200,000 low-income children losing access to early education,” the report states, adding that Medicaid cuts in the GOP plan could also “potentially further crowd out education funding.”

“The visions of the President and Congressional Republicans on education present a choice with important consequences for families, children, and communities.”

Obama coupled the report’s release with his weekly address, devoted to hammering Congress to back his $25 billion plan.

“Part of the jobs bill that I sent to Congress last September included support for states to prevent further layoffs and to rehire teachers who’d lost their jobs.  But here we are – a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off – and Congress still hasn’t done anything about it,” Obama said.

“In fact, the economic plan that almost every Republican in Congress voted for would make the situation even worse.  It would actually cut funding for education – which means fewer kids in Head Start, fewer teachers in our classrooms, and fewer college students with access to financial aid – all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires,” the president added, rolling it into his call for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for upper-income brackets.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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