Saturday, February 07, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education says stimulus spending builds a better-educated workforce

The approximately $140 billion for schools in President Obama's stimulus plan is "a historic chance to make things dramatically better," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told The Associated Press in an interview. "If we want to stimulate the economy, we need a better-educated workforce." While few in Congress would argue with this, some complain that little in the stimulus creates jobs in the short term. In Duncan's view, the planned education spending will have a major impact up front, through the building and renovation of classrooms, and in keeping hundreds of thousands of teachers from being laid off. Duncan also sees the stimulus as a way to make the country's public elementary and secondary schools more rigorous, preparing more kids to go to college. The stimulus plan would also double spending on Pell Grants to help low-income students pay for college, raising the maximum award to $5,350. "In our economy, never has it been more important to go to college," Duncan said. "Well, college has never been more unaffordable. And so increasing access is hugely important. Long term, if we want a better economy, we need more people going to college."
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