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“My name is Stephanie Harris Walter. I am a 43-year-old, married mother of two beautiful children, and I have been a teacher for 13 years. Since moving to Ohio several years ago, I have taught high school English and History specializing in the 11th and 12th grades -- most recently at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Every day, I gave my best to prepare each of my students with the skills they need to enter the private sector, the military, or move on to higher education despite the challenging conditions at JCVS, such as its leaky roof and outdated technology in the classroom. To balance its budget last year, Jefferson County School District laid off a number of teachers and education support staff, including me. Since losing my teaching job, every morning I wait by the phone hoping for a possible sub assignment to make ends meet. I only hope I have an opportunity to return to my students and continue to support my family.”
President Obama’s American Jobs Act would invest $30 billion to make sure that teachers like Stephanie and 400,000 educators would stay on the job, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more. Under the American Jobs Act, Ohio would immediately receive over $1 billion to put Stephanie and 14,200 Ohio educators back to work in the classroom.
The American Jobs Act will also modernize at least 35,000 public schools – investments that will create local jobs while improving classrooms, and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs. Ohio will receive $985,500,000 in funding to support as many as 12,800 jobs – fixing our crumbling schools, making classroom sizes smaller and more energy efficient. As Stephanie Walter shared, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School desperately needs that support to fix its leaking roof and crumbling infrastructure. Through the American Jobs Act, we can put hard-working teachers like Stephanie back on the job at a modernized school that every family and child deserves.
Speaking this past Tuesday in Texas, President Obama compared the situation here with South Korea, where their President said they can’t hire teachers fast enough:
They call them “nation builders” -- that’s what they call teachers in Korea, “nation builders,” because they know that educating their children is the best way to make sure their economy is growing, make sure that good jobs are locating there, making sure they’ve got the scientists and the engineers and the technicians who can build things and ship them all around the world. That’s what he understands. And the whole country supports him. Here in America, we’re laying off teachers in droves. It makes no sense. It has to stop. It has to stop.
Please share your story about how the American Jobs Act will positively impact you or your community. Stephanie Harris Walker is a member of the National Education Association -- a supporter of the American Jobs Act.
Brad Jenkins is an Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement.