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Obama Shifts Focus to Job Creation

NEA says schools - a critical economic engine - need another boost

by Tim Walker

At a town hall meeting on Friday, President Obama outlined his plans to reenergize job creation, which has faltered in the wake of the worst recession in more than 50 years. Speaking to a crowd at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, Obama made it clear that putting the country back to work would be the focus of his administration in 2010.

"This is not about me. This is about you," Obama told the crowd. "I will not stop fighting for you. Stand by me even during these tough times." Despite the high unemployment that still plagues the country, Obama touted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the stimulus package passed by Congress almost a year ago.

Had it not been for the actions of his administration he said, "We would have been looking at a Second Great Depression.”

Linda Repko, a teacher at Wellington High School, attended the town hall on Friday and came away convinced that the president stands committed to fighting unemployment.

“He inherited this mess and he knows the economy is still struggling, so I think he will stay on top of the job situation.”

“We’ve seem some improvements in Ohio from the stimulus,” she added, “especially in the schools. Quite a few positions have been saved.”

Indeed, according to the Department of Education, ARRA has saved approximately 325,000 education jobs.

“But the President knows more needs to be done,” Repko said.

The National Education Association agrees and urges the U.S. Senate to pass a jobs bill similar to the Jobs for Main Street Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives last month. That bill includes an Education Jobs Fund that will help states retain or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years and funds for school construction, renovation and modernization.

NEA believes investment in public education is the best investment for the nation's economy, both in the short run and the long run. Many experts agree that additional federal money for public education will have an immediate impact on improving the employment picture in communities such as Elyria, Ohio, because it is one of the most labor-intensive industries.

President Obama will detail his agenda for jobs during his State of The Union address on Wednesday.

NEA Letter to Congress: Take Quick Action on Jobs