April 30, 2010 – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and of the Senate Appropriations panel that funds education initiatives, introduced the Keep Our Educators Working Act on April 14. The bill proposes the creation of a $23 billion Education Jobs Fund to help keep teachers, principals, librarians and other school personnel on the job as states face budget shortfalls. The Keep Our Educators Working Act would create an Education Jobs Fund modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The SFSF is currently supporting more than 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors. According to a press release from Senator Harkin's office, "Even with the SFSF, schools across the country have laid off workers, and the job outlook is worse for the 2010-2011 school year. Additional resources are needed to help states and districts avoid a 'funding cliff' that would result in even more layoffs.”
The $23 billion included in the Keep Our Educators Working Act is roughly half of the amount dedicated to state aid in the SFSF, and is equal to the amount passed by the House in its December 2009 jobs legislation. Funding could be used for:
- Compensation and benefits and other expenses necessary to retain existing employees, and for the hiring of new employees, in order to provide early childhood, elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational and related services; or
- On-the-job training activities for education-related careers.
Additional information about the Keep Our Educators Working Act (S.3206) is available on THOMAS
Senator Harkin’s press release is available here