The importance of local education funding in DRAKESVILLE IOWA
Yesterday, President Obama spoke to the Council of the Great City Schools about the exceptional progress being made within local and state education levels. The work of our administrators and educators has been more impactful than ever, resulting in higher standardized test scores in some of the previously lowest-performing schools and increased resources for students.
In fact, more graduation caps are going airborne as high school students are graduating at the highest rate ever recorded, with the largest improvement among minority and low-income students.
See what President Obama had to say about what we must do to improve access to quality education in America:
This funding is an investment in our nation's future that has been able to give the kind of education our children need and deserve to compete in the 21st century.
President Obama hopes that the upcoming budget plan by the Republican House and Senate will reflect the priorities of educating every child. If their new budget maintains sequester-level funding of the past, we would actually be giving less federal support to America’s schools than we were back in 2000.
Most alarmingly, if their current proposal is not changed, over the next six years, billions of dollars would be cut in education funding. That means we'd be cutting the support given to America's most impoverished schools, the funding that has helped create the progress we're seeing today.
"The notion that we would be going backwards instead of forwards in how we’re devoting resources to educating our kids makes absolutely no sense."
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DRAKESVILLE IOWA: the March employment report reflects a pace of monthly job growth
The March employment report reflects a pace of monthly job growth below the recent trend, coming on the heels of February’s strong report. The unemployment rate was stable, broader measures of unemployment fell, and hourly earnings continued their rise. A range of factors including the weather and the global economic slowdown have affected economic data for the first quarter. The President has been clear that he will continue to push for policies including investments in infrastructure and relief from the sequester that would help ensure the strong underlying longer-term trends persist.
FIVE KEY POINTS IN TODAY’S REPORT FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
1. The private sector has added 12.1 million jobs over 61 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record. Today we learned that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 126,000 in March, driven by a 129,000 increase in private-sector employment. This particular month’s job gains were below the recent trend, as job growth in a number of industries slowed somewhat (see point 5). Over the past twelve months, the private sector has added 3.1 million jobs, nearly the highest year-over-year growth in the recovery so far.
2. Real aggregate weekly earnings have risen nearly 5 percent over the last twelve months. Real aggregate earnings track the purchasing power of total wages and salaries paid to U.S. private-sector employees, reflecting the combined effects of rising employment, rising wages, and a longer workweek. Aggregate earnings are nearly 7 percent above their pre-crisis peak. Indeed, they have recovered nearly twice their losses during the recession. Year-over-year aggregate earnings growth trended about 2-3 percent at an annual rate in recent years, but has risen to 5 percent year-over-year in recent months as hourly earnings have begun to rise (see point 3).
3. Over the past twelve months, rising real hourly earnings accounted for nearly half the increase in real aggregate weekly earnings. The large contribution of rising hourly earnings is a recent trend. Aggregate earnings reached a trough in December 2009, and over the following year-and-a-half, real hourly wages declined. The aggregate earnings increase during that early period was driven by a combination of rising employment and a longer workweek. Over the next three years, both hourly earnings and the workweek were largely stable, with rising employment accounting for 80 percent of the growth in aggregate earnings. Real wage growth over the past year has been a major contributor to the speed-up in aggregate earnings, due to both rising nominal wages and slowing consumer price growth as oil prices have declined. While the recent progress is encouraging, there is more work to do to ensure that real earnings growth is sustained and shared with a broad range of American families.
4. The overall share of jobs held by women rose from an average of 48.5 percent in 2001-2007 to 49.3 percent in March 2015. This 0.8 percentage point increase masks substantial variation within industries. Female workers shifted out of smaller industries like financial activities and information services where the female share declined by 3.1 and 3.7 percentage points, respectively and into higher-employment industries like retail trade. Women’s share of employment also increased somewhat in the government sector, where 57 percent of workers are female. Accordingly, women were disproportionately affected by the cuts to government employment that occurred between 2010 and 2013, but they have also disproportionately benefited from net job growth in this sector since mid-2013.
5. Job growth in a number of industries fell below recent trends in March. Looking over the 61-month streak of private-sector job growth, March was an especially weak month for mining and logging (-11,000), manufacturing (-1,000), leisure and hospitality (+13,000), and construction (-1,000). The weakness in mining and logging is likely attributable in large part to the recent decline in oil prices. March was a stronger than usual month in retail trade (+26,000) and health care and social assistance (+30,000). Across the 17 industries shown below, the correlation between the most recent one-month percent change and the average percent change over the last twelve months rose to 0.51 from 0.13 last month, remaining somewhat below the average correlation over the past two years.
As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data as they become available.
Thanks to the leadership of the President and the FCC, the resources are in place to meet the Presidents connectivity goal. In addition, various private-sector partners are making over $2 billion worth of resources available to students, teachers, and schools. These include tablets, mobile broadband, software, and online teacher professional development courses from top universities. Fewer than 40 percent of public schools currently have the high-speed Internet needed to support modern digital learning.
But now we have the resources to solve this problem. We just need help from our nations superintendents and school technology chiefs.
Last year, the FCC approved the first major update to the E-Rate program since it was created in 1997. E-Rate (also known as the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries) makes it more affordable for schools and libraries to connect to high-speed Internet with the goal of making the gigabit speeds we see in cities like Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Chattanooga, Tennessee the norm in schools across the country.
These updates have unlocked funding to support internal Wi-Fi network upgrades in schools and libraries this year for the first time since 2012. Wi-Fi is important because no matter how fast the Internet connection is to a school, students cant take full advantage of it without a robust wireless network within the school.
To secure E-rate support for Wi-Fi, schools and libraries must submit a form describing their project needs to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC then posts the request for competitive bidding. The Department of Education has prepared an Infrastructure Guide to help district leaders navigate the many decisions required to deliver cutting-edge connectivity to students. That said, schools and libraries have the final say when they submit an application to USAC for approval.
Bringing our schools up to speed is a major priority, and E-rate provides an opportunity to make doing so much more affordable. For all of the superintendents and technology officers: If you havent yet done so, get your requests submitted by February 26, 2015, and your applications in before March 26, 2015 (requests must be up for 28 days before a school can choose a vendor). Your students, your community, and your country will thank you for bringing our classrooms into the 21st century.