We’re facing the worst economic crisis in generations, and we must meet this challenge as our nation has met previous threats -- with a forceful plan that not only addresses our problems today, but also lays a solid foundation for the future.

Half measures won’t work. We need a concerted, bipartisan effort to get this economy back on track, and that begins with investing in students’ futures.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a two-year, $819 billion federal package, includes almost a $150 billion investment aimed at injecting much needed funds into the nation’s schools, preschool programs, and colleges. To put this in context, the current budget of the Department of Education is $60 billion.

Such an infusion of federal aid would be the largest since World War II  which will go a long way toward helping schools avoid devastating budget cuts and layoffs that would move our country away from our goal of great public schools for every student. In addition, targeted funds will help rebuild and modernize America’s aging public schools, provide needed services to students with disabilities and educationally disadvantaged students, and make college more affordable by increasing the Pell grant award.

Our nation must make some tough economic decisions, but they can and should be made with an eye toward the future, as well as the present. One of the best ways to accomplish that is to invest in the great public schools that our students deserve. We can create jobs today, and at the same time, prepare our children for good careers in the future.