NEW BRITAIN, CONN.—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten today visited the decrepit mobile classrooms at Chamberlain Primary School in New Britain, Conn., saying Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act to help modernize Chamberlain and 35,000 other schools in desperate need of repairs.
The jobs bill would provide funds to modernize and repair 35,000 schools, and prevent more than 280,000 teacher layoffs. However, the U.S. Senate blocked a vote on the bill, and the U.S. House leadership has refused to consider it. A truncated Senate version that would have provided $35 billion to rehire teachers, cops and firefighters was defeated in a 50-50 vote last night.
The portable classroom modules at Chamberlain were installed more than 20 years ago to address a growing student population and accommodate the needs of school staff.
"These units are well past their expiration date. Giving kids a high-quality education also includes educating them in safe, healthy, decent learning conditions. The mobile classrooms we saw don't meet that standard," Weingarten said.
Weingarten was joined on the tour by U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Consolidated School District of New Britain Superintendent Ron Jakubowski, AFT Connecticut President Sharon Palmer, New Britain Federation of Teachers Vice President Sue Schmidt, and Connecticut State Building and Construction Trades Council President David Roche.
"Public schools are suffering because of drastic budget cuts over the last three years. The American Jobs Act can do double duty by repairing schools like Chamberlain and putting Americans back to work," said AFT Connecticut's Palmer.
Weingarten said that the senators who have been voting against this legislation are out of touch with the 75 percent of Americans who support the act, according to this week's CNN/Gallup Poll.
"This nation's deep, grinding recession has resulted in mass layoffs of public safety workers and educators, crumbling school buildings, and disinvestment in vital education programs," said Weingarten. "It's an economic emergency, and we've run out of time for political posturing. Our schools and communities need Congress to immediately pass the jobs act."