(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama lectured the nation’s governors Monday to stop cutting education and to hire more public school teachers, and he proposed spending $25 billion to prevent further layoffs.
The National Governor’s Association held its winter meeting in Washington over the weekend, where the chief executives from states across the country convened to discuss matters affecting their states such as how to handle budgets, and issues such as education and health care.
“We’ve just got to get more teachers into our classrooms,” Obama told the governors gathered at the White House Wednesday morning. “Over the past four years, school districts across America have lost over 250,000 educators – 250,000 teachers, educators have been lost. A quarter million educators responsible for millions of our students, all laid off when America has never needed them more.”
The White House released a report Monday titled, “Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last,” which said a majority of states provided less funding for elementary and secondary schools in fiscal year 2012 than in fiscal year 2011. The White House report also says 40 states cut their higher education spending, which has contributed to increased tuition. Obama also called on governors to take action in keeping college affordable.
“Other countries are doubling down on education and increasing their investment in teachers,” Obama said. “Each of us is here because at some point in our life a teacher changed our life trajectory.”
Obama said a good teacher can increase the income of a classroom by $250,000.
“Teachers matter. All of us have to recognize that. We’ve got to put our money behind it,” he told the governors. “We want to help you every place that we can at the federal level. We’ve already provided billions of dollars in funding to keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom.
“And a cornerstone of the jobs plan I put forward in September, a chunk of which has gotten done but a chunk of which remains undone, was to provide even more funding so you could prevent even more layoffs and rehire teachers that have lost their jobs,” Obama added.
Teacher unions have been traditionally big donors to the Democratic Party. Already in 2012, the National Education Association (NEA) Political Action Committee (PAC) has contributed $273,325 to Democratic congressional candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2010, NEA gave $1.2 million to Democratic congressional candidates, while in 2008, the organization gave $1.8 million to Democratic candidates.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) PAC has also been a big backer, contributing $637,900 to Democratic congressional candidates for the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The AFT gave $2.3 million in 2010 and contributed $2.2 million to Democratic candidates for federal office in 2008.
The president’s proposal touts significant new spending and significant new programs at the federal level to boost education, neither of which has been successful in the past, said Lindsey Burke, senior policy analyst for education with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
“It is inappropriate to be wading into the hiring and firing decisions of local school districts,” Burke told CNSNews.com. “The president is wading into an across the board increase in teachers and increase in pay.”