WASHINGTON, DC – Released this morning, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2012 federal budget proposed a modest but significant increase for education programs. In response, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, made the following statement:
“Even in this tough budget climate, the president’s budget recognizes that the best economic stimulus package is improving education. In the knowledge-based economy of the twenty-first century, education is the only currency. Individuals who lack it are more likely to spend their time filling out unemployment forms than paperwork for car loans or home mortgages.
“The real job killer in upcoming years will be slashing budgets without recognizing what is necessary to create future jobs. Cutting education programs when more than 60 percent of new jobs will soon require some additional education after high school makes about as much sense as leaving your four-wheel drive at home when there’s a blizzard in the forecast. Without a greater focus on education and additional help for the students slipping through the cracks, the economic recovery could fail to gain traction.
“During the most recent school year, over one million students left school without a high school diploma. Were the nation to cut that number in half, the 650,000 ‘new’ high school graduates would likely produce a $9.6 billion increase in gross national product and likely create 54,000 new jobs. Cutting the high school dropout rate is even more important than cutting budgets because it can create a high-wage job-creation surge—and a deficit reduction package—that everyone should support.
“Investing in education is an important step to jumpstarting the nation’s economy, but it cannot be the only step. These new investments must be targeted where they are most needed and will be most effective; this is best done by a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind. I ask President Obama and the U.S. Congress to work as fast as possible on an agreement to reauthorize the law. It’s the best step for our children and our economy.”
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com.