Obama Administration Presses to Keep Illinois Teachers Working

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

With state and local budget shortfalls threatening the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators in Illinois and across the country, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve emergency funding to keep them on the job.

“It is crucial that we keep our teachers in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.  “Our teachers are vital to our students’ success, our economy’s success, and our nation’s success.  We must act now to prevent teachers from being laid off and ensure that America’s students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century.”

The economic downturn has placed massive strain on state and local budgets.  As education makes up one of the largest single items in state budgets, schools, classrooms, and teacher jobs have been targeted for significant cuts.  Such a massive loss of jobs will impact students through reductions in core class time, overcrowded classrooms, shortened school calendars, cuts to afterschool programming, fewer early childhood opportunities, and reduced access to college counselors and school nurses.  

In response, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve $23 billion in emergency support to preserve education jobs across the country.  This funding will keep teachers in the classroom at all levels, including post-secondary, while helping to sustain meaningful and necessary reforms underway in public education.  The President also is urging Congress to approve $1 billion to preserve early childhood education jobs to ensure that young children do not lose services critical to their learning and well-being.

According to provisional estimates by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, this funding will support the jobs of approximately 300,000 educators, including approximately 11,460 in Illinois.

“As state lawmakers and school districts across the country are finalizing their budgets for the coming year, we must act quickly and responsibly to offer the assistance they need – to keep our teachers teaching, keep our students learning, and keep our economy growing.  Investing in education now will help tens of millions of students become more productive citizens and positively affect America’s long-term fiscal health,” Secretary Duncan said.