Unions Say State Schools Would Benefit From Jobs Bill

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A week after the Senate knocked down President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs bill, leaders from the West Virginia Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia AFL-CIO touted the education benefits of the president's plan Monday, saying it would repair run-down schools, hire more educators and funnel resources to West Virginia's neediest children.

"Our education infrastructure cannot wait for the next two to three years," said Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO. "We should not have to wait for the kids in this state to prosper."

Under Obama's jobs bill, West Virginia stands to gain $324 million in funding to update school infrastructure and technology and to expand programs like childhood education and school counseling. Those federal dollars could create 2,100 jobs in projects to improve education infrastructure and support additions of up to 2,600 educator jobs, according to the West Virginia Federation of Teachers. 

The Democrat-controlled Senate scuttled the president's bill Tuesday, failing to muster the 60 votes necessary to break the Senate Republicans' filibuster.

Using Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Charleston as a backdrop -- a school that is over 70 years old -- union members said that West Virginia was in serious need of school improvements and called on Congress to pass the education portion of the jobs bill.

"This money would allow us to build new science and computer labs ... and to remove mold and asbestos from our school," said Judy Hale, president of the American Federation of Teachers in West Virginia. "[It] would allow us to upgrade technology in our school so that West Virginia children will have the same advantages as other children who have 21st Century technology in their schools."

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