NAESP Statement on the President’s Joint Session to Congress on American Jobs

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Principals support jobs legislation, are concerned with potential cuts to existing essential programs.

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NAESP endorses this assistance as an important strategy to help schools in communities that have been hit hard by the difficult economic times, particularly those serving students from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Last night the President unveiled the American Jobs Act, a framework that would provide $447 billion in aid to bolster the economy and boost the middle class. The plan calls for several strategic investments that will help put Americans back to work; protect our nation’s schools, principals, and teachers; and rebuild critical components of the country’s infrastructure.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) applauds the President’s call on Congress to strengthen education as the essential engine of individual and societal prosperity and as a vital component of economic recovery. Based on the outline of President Obama’s plan, it targets at least $37 billion to support K-12 education—an estimated $12 billion to prevent nearly 280,000 pending teacher and educator layoffs and an additional $25 billion to rebuild and shore-up America’s often-crumbling schools.

“NAESP supports President Obama’s call on Congress to develop the specific legislation that would keep hundreds of thousands of educators on the job and modernize our schools in support of teaching and learning, among other essential investments in America,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly. “We are extremely mindful, however, that the legislation Congress ultimately develops could cut funds from existing essential programs—such as Title 1—to fund these new initiatives. NAESP’s focus in the coming weeks will be to prevent such a funding disaster. Federal dollars to preserve educators’ jobs and modernize schools must supplement current education funds, not replace them.”

NAESP especially applauds the administration’s priority to rebuild and modernize school infrastructure in approximately 35,000 of our nation’s aging schools in rural areas, including Indian American or BIA-designated schools, and to carry out urgent emergency repair and renovation projects, including greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos containment and removal, ADA accessibility, and technology upgrades and Internet access. According to the proposal, 60 percent of the funds would be distributed to states to allocate, with the flexibility to use those funds to support high-need districts; 40 percent would be targeted to the 100 largest high-need public school districts. Overall, NAESP endorses this assistance as an important strategy to help schools in communities that have been hit hard by the difficult economic times, particularly those serving students from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds. See a state-by-state breakdown here.

“Principals understand that there is no greater threat to the economic stability and future growth of America than the long-term erosion of support for public education,” Connelly added. “Only principals can create and sustain excellent schools. They routinely overcome tremendous obstacles with already bare-bones budgets in support of students and teachers. By doing so, they ensure that schools serve as portals to 21st century learning where every student has an equal opportunity to achieve academically and become college- and career-ready. NAESP urges Congress to move swiftly to develop legislation in support of the President’s plan and so provide the necessary resources to put educators back to work now and strengthen our schools for the future.”

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