A new White House report released Saturday says budget cuts have forced state and local governments to cut 300,000 education jobs, a development the administration warns could set back American students.
The report which was prepared by the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, Domestic Policy Council, and the National Economic Council says that the 300,000 job losses have occurred since 2009, the end of the recession, supporting administration claims that education workers have yet to benefit from the economic recovery.
School districts across the country have taken steps to address their budget shortfalls including “laying off teachers, increasing class sizes, eliminating critical programs, shortening the school week or shortening the school year,” according to a White House statement announcing the report.
The White House is using the report to bolster support for Obama’s call for $25 billion in spending to prevent teacher layoffs and invest in state education programs.
“The difference between the President’s education budget proposals and those of Congressional Republicans highlights a choice between two fundamentally different visions for our country,” the report says.
The authors warn that House Republican budget cuts would “eliminate funding for 38,000 teachers and aides,” as well as a further loss of 27,000 special education teachers and fewer students in programs such as Head Start, which provides education and health services to low-income children.
The plan to help states avert teacher layoffs, which the president proposed earlier this year as part of his jobs agenda, has been opposed by congressional Republicans who say that additional stimulus measures will not help boost the lukewarm economic recovery.
In his weekly address on Saturday, the president used the report to highlight the need for further investment in education and pressed lawmakers to pass his proposal. He called Republican efforts to oppose increased education spending “backwards” and “wrong.”
“That plan doesn’t invest in our future; it undercuts our future,” said Obama.
The White House report received support from the American Federation of Teachers. In a statement released Saturday, President Randi Weingarten said Washington, “should be increasing our commitment to children and to the public schools that educate 90 percent of them.”
“President Obama’s American Jobs Act legislation would change this calculus and the trajectory of our children’s future by averting deeper cuts to education by keeping teachers in the classroom, keeping class sizes manageable and preserving programs like early childhood education,” she added.