Obama warns about teacher layoffs

In his weekly address, President Obama doubled down on his call for Congress to help cash-strapped states hire teachers, arguing education was a key ingredient to improving the struggling American economy.

"Teachers matter," the president said Saturday. "One study found that a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can change the course of a child’s life. So the last thing our country needs is to have fewer teachers in our schools."


Obama noted that the effects of the recession were being felt most dramatically at the local level, where municipalities were seeing budgets squeezed as tax bases eroded.

"Nationwide, over the past three years, school districts have lost over 250,000 educators.  Think about what that means for our country," Obama said. "When there are fewer teachers in our schools, class sizes start climbing up. Our students start falling behind. And our economy takes a hit."

The president repeated his instance that Congress could not wait on parts of his jobs bill just because its an election year.

"Some things are bigger than an election. Some things are bigger than politics. So I hope you’ll join me in telling Congress to do the right thing; to get to work and to help get our teachers back in the classroom," Obama said. "We can’t afford to wait any longer."

But Obama also made a point to individually note dramatic teacher lay offs in states like Pennsylvania that could be crucial in November.

The president's messaging largely echoed his remarks at an unplanned press conference Friday at the White House. But that effort was overshadowed by the president's remark that "the private sector is doing fine" in terms of job growth, drawing immediate criticism from Republicans.

Obama later walked that statement back, telling reporters it's "absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine."

“That's the reason I had a press conference. That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger."