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Editor's Focus: Money for Schools

Editor's Focus: Money for Schools

Education institutions may be the beneficiary of a new jobs plan proposed by President Obama. The plan, which would among other things provide federal money to repair public schools, is comprised of a broad package the president hopes will help jump-start a struggling economy.

Many see the plan to direct federal money to school infrastructure as a mini-ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), referring to the money that was made available for school repair as part of the $787 billion stimulus law passed in 2009. The most recent proposal would direct money to education institutions where repair and improvement work has been delayed for years.

Although the plan is ripe for partisan bickering (which seems to be the only job Washington is getting done these days), many economists and industry groups agree that it would satisfy one of the primary goals: immediately create jobs.

Even though the full cost of repairs needed by the nation’s schools is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, investing a portion of that amount would result in significant job creation. A report from the 21st Century School Fund, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that even a $50 billion program to repair schools would create about half a million jobs. The report even offers a way to pay for it—by closing loopholes that would eliminate nearly $50 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

Washington gridlock, however, may jettison any chance of producing real solutions. But lawmakers need to put the health and well-being of the country ahead of partisan politics and reach a compromise to fix the broken economy and get Americans back to work. The school repair plan would be a step in the right direction to both grow jobs and boost the economy.

Agron is editor-in-chief of AS&U.

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