October 12, 2011
State Schools Chief Torlakson Urges
Congress to Approve American Jobs Act
Modesto School Officials Cite Urgent Need for Modernization, Layoff Prevention Funds
MODESTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged California's Congressional delegation to support President Obama's American Jobs Act legislation to help repair hundreds of schools and prevent thousands of teacher layoffs.
Joined by teachers, administrators, school employees, parents, and community leaders at Modesto's Mark Twain Junior High School, Torlakson said the proposal would bring $2.8 billion to California for school repairs, including $4.5 million for Modesto schools.
"Our message is simple: the time to create jobs is now, and the place to create them is right here—at Mark Twain Junior High—and at schools just like it all across California," Torlakson said. "California always has had trouble getting its fair share from Washington. That was bad enough during the good times. But right now, our schools need a helping hand, and it's time for Congress to provide it by approving the American Jobs Act."
The legislation also would provide California with $3.6 billion in new funds to prevent future layoffs of teachers and school employees—and bring back the jobs of those who already have been laid off. The proposal would support up to 37,300 educator jobs, according to a White House estimate.
"We've already seen 30,000 teachers lose their jobs over the last four years," Torlakson said. "What started as a financial emergency for our schools has become a crisis in our classrooms, and we dare not wait any longer to address it."
"Thirty-two of Modesto City Schools' 34 campuses qualify for state modernization funds," said Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able. "The American Jobs Act will provide a great opportunity for our schools and for our community."
Like thousands of other schools in California, Mark Twain Junior High, built in 1951, is showing its age. The campus needs a new roof, energy-efficient windows, repairs to the school's heating system as well as new restrooms, drinking fountains, and a coat of fresh paint, officials said.
California's share of the American Jobs Act funding for school modernization would support as many as 36,600 jobs in the state.
Torlakson also has sent a letter to the members of California's congressional delegation asking them to support the American Jobs Act.