In an address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama emphasized the importance of education and green schools. The Thursday September 8, speech called for a $25 billion effort to modernize at least 35,000 public schools that includes making them greener.
“Funds could be used for a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in our schools,” states a White House summary of Obama’s broader $447 billion “American Jobs Act.”
In his speech Obama said,”there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school, and we can give it to them, if we act now.”
The President went on to say, “The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows, installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all across this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures. It will jump-start thousands of transportation projects all across the country.”
The President said he would spend an additional $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and support the hiring of thousands more.
“Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher.” Obama said. “But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids; it undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.”
The President’s job plan also supports internships and on the job training. “Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training. Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges,” he said.
Towards the end of his speech Obama asked the question, “What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?”
The President also asked the question, “Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?”
The President indicated that he understands that education is crucial to American competitiveness. “We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build, and out-educate, and out-innovate every other country on Earth,” he said.
The speech was appreciated by the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition that includes groups like the Sierra Club. They also liked the schools initiative. “A green school in every community will be a living symbol of how to put America back to work, improve the health of our children and teachers, and move our economy closer to a clean energy future.”
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved