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Duncan Urges Congressional Leaders to Pass Edujobs Bill ASAP

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It's almost crunch time on the edujobs legislation.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter today to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. the Speaker of the House, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Majority Leader, asking them to please include the $23 billion edujobs measure in the supplemental appropriations bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Senate is set to consider very soon.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, is planning to introduce the bill as an amendment to the supplemental, once it goes to the Senate floor. If the edujobs bill was passed this way, there wouldn't need to be an offset, or cut in other spending, to cover the $23 billion.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has similar legislation pending in the House.

The problem? Some observers say it might be tough for congressional leaders to get the votes needed to pass the war supplemental if the edujobs bill is hitching a ride. And on another spending bill, Congress may need to find an offset, which could complicate matters.

But Duncan is urging leaders to let the supplemental be the vehicle. In sending the letter to leaders, he's letting them know the full weight of the administration is behind Harkin's plan. And he's saying schools can't wait.

Here's a snippet from his letter:

We are gravely concerned that ongoing state and local budget challenges are threatening hundreds of thousands of teacher jobs for the upcoming school year, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs at risk. Without swift action, millions of children will experience these budget cuts in one way or another through reductions in class time; cuts to early childhood programs, extracurricular activities, and summer school; and reduced course offerings as teachers are laid off. These budget cuts would also undermine the groundbreaking reform efforts underway in states and districts all across the country.

What's not in the letter? Any mention of seniority based layoffs.

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