Kimberly Russell, a Dallas ISD social studies teacher and single mother who was laid off in May, was slated to introduce President Barack Obama at a Dallas-area event Tuesday afternoon promoting passage of the American Jobs Act.
The President’s itinerary included a tour of the Children’s Laboratory School at Eastfield Community College in Mesquite and a meeting with students and teachers before delivering remarks urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to keep teachers in the classroom and rebuild schools across the nation.
“Kimberly Russell unfortunately represents the situation of thousands of Texas teachers who have lost their jobs as a result of massive and unnecessary budget cuts last spring,” said Rena Honea, president of Alliance-AFT, which represents some 10,000 school employees in Dallas ISD. “Our schoolchildren are facing larger class sizes, reduced support to meet increasing standards, and in many cases, crumbling schools in need of repair. The American Jobs Act would provide a critical lifeline to minimize the damage to our children’s education.”
For Texas, the American Jobs Act would substantially offset the deep cuts in state funding inflicted by the Texas legislature and Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year. They chopped $5.4 billion from state per-pupil aid plus grants to school districts, setting the stage for layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers and other school employees in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.
The proposed federal Jobs Act would counteract those cuts by providing $4.5 billion for Texas elementary and secondary public education: $2.2 billion in funds to save and create jobs, plus another $2.3 billion to upgrade school facilities. Dallas ISD would receive $277 million, including $97 million in job-saving aid.
Nationwide the American Jobs Act would prevent the layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while also allowing states to hire back tens of thousands more. In addition, the American Jobs Act would modernize at least 35,000 public school buildings and community college campuses while putting construction workers back to work.
The White House today also was preparing to release a report outlining how the administration’s efforts–including the American Jobs Act–will keep teachers in the classroom, strengthen our schools, and improve the local economy in communities across the country.
The American Federation of Teacher is supporting passage of the American Jobs Act with a National Call-In campaign to members of Congress this week. For more information, including ways to reach members of Congress with letters and phone calls, visit www.aft.org. Then just click on the link that says: “Call Congress for Jobs!”