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Texas Teacher Hopes Congress Passes the American Jobs Act So She Can Return to the Classroom

Kimberly Russell was laid off in May and now the single mother is struggling to keep her home
Kimberly Russell

President Barack Obama meets Kimberly Russell before delivering remarks on the American Jobs Act at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Oct. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Kimberly Russell was laid off in May of this year. She was teaching Social Studies and Economics at Lincoln High School in Dallas, both standard and AP classes. Unbeknownst to Russell, her  position was being paid by federal stimulus funding and the funding was exhausted. Like many other educators, Russell has a family. She is a single mother of a 10 year old son, and she prides herself on being a homeowner. Now that she is unemployed, Russell is struggling to keep that dream of homeownership alive. Russell is hoping that Congress will pass the American Jobs Act to help teachers get back to work soon. She misses her students and wants to get back in the classroom.

Russell introduced President Obama last week at an event in Mesquite, Texas where he toured a pre-school before talking about the impact the American Jobs Act will have on schools, and on teachers, across the country. He told the crowd there that the stakes for addressing this situation are high, with “nothing less than our ability to compete in this 21st century economy” at risk.  

And Russell points out additional long term consequences of taking teachers like her out of the classroom. “My school is in one of the worst socio-economic districts in Texas. It takes a different kind of person to build a rapport with those kids, it is a hard school to staff. And my heart fills when I think of those kids, and then it breaks when I remember that I was trying to show those children that they could change their situation through education, they could get out and do something. This makes me look like a hypocrite – look, she’s got an education and she lost her job anyway. I hope they still value the lessons I tried to drive home to them.”

According to a report released last week, the American Jobs Act could prevent hundreds of thousands of layoffs, and allow schools to rehire thousands more:

  • Nearly 300,000 Educator Jobs Have Been Lost Since 2008, 54 Percent of all Job Losses in Local Government: Local governments shed nearly 300,000 education jobs between August 2008 and August 2011. By another measure, employment of teachers fell by 7.2 percent between 2007-08 and 2010-11.
  • Local Governments Have Lost Nearly 200,000 Education Jobs Over the Past Year: Over just the past 12 months, local government education employment has fallen by 194,000 jobs.
  • State and Local Funding Cuts Put As Many as 280,000 Teacher Jobs At Risk Next Year: In the four larg­est states, budget reductions threaten teacher jobs and key funding for schools. In New York City alone, nearly 780 employees were expected to lose their jobs by October. In California, budget triggers may shorten the school year. And in Texas and Florida, tens of thousands of teachers could be laid off.
  • The American Jobs Act Will Support Nearly 400,000 Education Jobs—Preventing Layoffs and Allowing Thousands More to Be Hired or Rehired: The President’s plan will more than offset projected layoffs, providing support for nearly 400,000 education jobs—enough for states to avoid harmful layoffs and rehire tens of thousands of teachers who lost their jobs over the past three years.

 See how the American Jobs Act will impact others:

Manufacturer hopes to expand and hire  through the American Jobs Act.
How the American Jobs Act will help pay for education
How small business owners will be affected by the American Jobs Act
Putting money back in the pockets of hard working Americans
Tax savings created by the American Jobs Act
What the American Jobs Act means for high tech manufacturers
American Jobs Act creating jobs for veterans
Creating more jobs for small firms
Putting the unemployed back to work
How the American Jobs Act will impact families


See what mayors are saying about the American Jobs Act.