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NEA Has High Hopes for Obama's Jobs Speech

Looking forward to the big Obama jobs speech tomorrow? The National Education Association sure is. President Obama spoke with Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the nation's largest teachers union today and told him that school modernization and jobs (although not necessarily education jobs) will be a focus of his speech tomorrow.

No details yet, so it's unclear just how much money we're talking here for school facilities - or whether it could be used for new construction or just modernization, repair, and retrofitting. And it's unclear whether the money for jobs will include funding to help stave off teacher layoffs. But union officials are optimistic.

"I think we're going to be pleased with the president's speech tomorrow," Kim Anderson, the director of government relations for the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. "He's going to reiterate that education is a priority for him."

The NEA will have Obama's back in selling any education proposals to Congress, Anderson added.

"We will actively engage our members across the country to put a human face on the need to create 21st Century Schools for our students and [help alleviate] cuts to educators who provide incredible services," she said. "We will be in full scale mobilization. ... Jobs is not a one speech focus .... We're really hopeful that the focus on jobs will be sustained that Congress will act quickly."

Of course, Obama isn't likely to have an easy time getting GOP lawmakers (and maybe even some moderate Democrats) to swallow more money for school construction or education jobs, even with lots of help from education advocates like the NEA. More on the politics here.

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