In his speech to Congress, President Obama laid out two job programs critical to ensuring every child has the opportunity for a world-class education.
He proposed to invest $30 billion to put hundreds of thousands of construction workers, engineers, boiler repairmen, and electrical workers back to work rebuilding and modernizing our aging public schools and community colleges. And he proposed an additional $30 billion to keep hundreds of thousands of educators facing potential layoffs and furloughs in classrooms where they belong—instead of on unemployment lines.
In the global economy, the nation that out-educates America will out-compete America. But the hard truth is that a number of nations are now out-educating the U.S.—and the antiquated conditions of many public schools are limiting children’s access to the 21st century tools and skills needed to compete in a knowledge economy.
The average public school building in the United States is over 40 years old. Many school buildings are even more antiquated. Today, the digital age has penetrated every nook of American life—with the exception of many of our public schools.
Most classrooms have changed little from a century ago. In fact, 43 states report that a third or more of their schools fail to meet the functional requirements necessary to effectively teach laboratory science—even though hands-on science education is vital for the jobs of the future. That’s no way to provide a world-class education.
Cash-strapped school districts meanwhile face an enormous $270 billion backlog of deferred maintenance and repairs. Tragically, children in the nation’s poorest school districts often attend schools with crumbling ceilings, overcrowded classrooms, and facilities that lack basic wiring infrastructure for computers, projectors, and other modern-day technology.
This is not a partisan issue. The physical conditions at some aging schools today are shameful. They are no place for children to learn. Read more >>