Emergency relief funding provided under President Obama’s economic recovery plan was released to school districts across the country yesterday. The U.S. Department of Education announced that they will release the first installment of funds that will help schools save teaching jobs and maintain education programs for low-income students and students with disabilities. School districts will receive the second installment of the funds, provided under Title I and IDEA formulas, this fall.

These investments will go a long way toward helping students, teachers and schools that are facing devastating cuts in this economy. Fixing our schools and ensuring our students have access to a world class education is not a luxury -- it is an economic and educational necessity.

In addition to the Title I and IDEA investments, the economic recovery plan also created a $54 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to help stabilize state and local budgets and restore harmful cuts to education. The Obama administration also issued guidelines yesterday to clarify how the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund can be used by local districts and colleges. States could apply for this funding beginning yesterday.

I encourage state education officials to release these emergency funds to school districts as soon as the states receive them. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund guidelines confirm that while states allocate the funds, it should be up to local school districts and colleges and universities to decide how to use this emergency aid, not up to states. The guidelines also reaffirmed that these funds should be used for three purposes: to backfill harmful cuts to K-12 and higher education, to stave off teacher layoffs, and to modernize school facilities -– which could create new jobs.

President Obama’s economic recovery plan will provide relief to millions of Americans whose economic pain is worsening by the day; to workers who need a job; to schools that are in desperate need of repairs and resources; and to children who need a good education now more than ever. These historic investments in Title I and IDEA and other programs will help schools meet urgent needs.