President Barack Obama used his video address this weekend to press Congress to pass a key piece of legislation that would help to ease layoffs in the education sector.
"States should be making education a priority in their budgets, even in tough fiscal times," the president said in his Saturday address. "And Congress should be willing to help out - because this affects all of us."
The president highlighted how a recent White House study showed 300,000 teachers have lost their jobs since the end of the recession in late 2009. The same report also showed how the teacher-to-student ratio increased by 4.6 percent in recent years, leading to larger class sizes and less one-on-one attention.
"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," Obama added. "But here we are - a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off - and Congress still hasn't done anything about it."
The president's job bill was blocked by House Republicans as wasteful spending last year. But Obama has continued to push for the legislation, which would also help states keep police and firefighters employed.
A key part of the legislation criticized by Republicans is a $25 billion aid package to halt further teacher layoffs. Economically and politically, the administration believes retaining teachers in their positions is a good idea.
Monthly jobs reports have shown that while the private sector continues to slowly grow, public sector jobs to see consistent losses. This is especially true in the education field, where 150,000 jobs have been cut by local governments.
The most recent employment data released at the beginning of August showed while local public sector jobs were only down by 1,000, this was because a 7,000 job drop in the education sector was offset by 6,000 additional jobs added outside of education.
"The administration continues to support elements of the American Jobs Act...including infrastructure investment and assistance to state and local governments to prevent layoffs for teachers and first responders," Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Jan Eberly told reporters on August 3.
The president echoed the worry caused inside the administration by these numbers in his address Saturday, adding the issue will be thrown into starker relief when kids return to school in a couple of weeks.
"I am only the President of the United States today because of the chance my education gave me," the president concluded Saturday.
"I want every child in America to have that chance. That's what I'm fighting for. And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, that's what I'm going to keep fighting for."
by RTT Staff Writer
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