I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the White House, which some folks said wasn’t going after the edujobs money with sufficient gusto, sent a letter, on a weekend no less, to congressional leaders asking them to please pass legislation to stave off what some warn could be 300,000 teacher layoffs.
A couple of things to note here:
*The version of the edujobs bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in December, was set to provide $23 billion, but the letter doesn’t specify an amount. Still, published reports say this is an ask for $50 billion in total state aid, which would seem to suggest that the administration wants the full $23 billion.
*The White House also asked Congress to pass an extension of the Medicaid FMAP program, which could cost about $24 billion. That money is also pretty important to education funding because some 30 states have already written it into their budgets. If it doesn’t come through, there could be more cuts to state ledgers, which usually means more cuts for K-12, which almost certainly means more layoffs.
Congressional leaders are working on a plan to offset at least part of the cost of the edujobs legislation, lobbyists have told me.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been up on Capitol Hill, asking for the jobs money for quite a while now, and he’s made it clear that he is speaking for the entire Obama administration. Still, this is the clearest signal yet that the White House supports the effort.
What do you think? Will the letter help the edujobs effort, or is this too little too late? And are you disappointed the White House didn’t specify an amount?