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Keeping Teachers like Mrs. Keene in the Classroom

Summary: 
Vice President Biden visits a school in Land O'Lakes, Florida, to speak to a group of parents and teachers about how the American Jobs Act will help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in classrooms across the country.

Last year, Mrs. Keene’s 5th grade class at Oakstead Elementary in Land O’Lakes, Florida had 19 students in it. This year, she has a class of 25. As a result of state budget cuts, Oakstead lost 8 out of 83 teachers for the 2011-2012 school year, eliminating nearly 10% of the teaching staff at a school that serves over 1000 students.
 
During his visit to Oakstead on Tuesday, Vice President Biden had the chance to visit Mrs. Keene’s class, as well as speak to a group of parents and teachers about how the American Jobs Act would help keep and put hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom. 

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Mrs. Keene's 5th Grade Classroom and Takes Questions from Students, at Oakstead Elementary School

Vice President Joe Biden visits Mrs. Keene's 5th grade classroom and takes questions from students, at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O' Lakes, Florida, October 4, 2011. (Official White House by David Lienemann)

The 8 teaching positions lost at Oakstead were just a few of the 513 positions eliminated district-wide when Pasco County Public Schools had to close a $54 million budget shortfall this year.  After years of budget cuts from the state and declining tax revenues – the district now receives $780 less per pupil in funding than it did in 2007 – and cutting all of the overhead it could, the District was forced to make cuts that impact the classroom. As a result, kids are in bigger class sizes – some over the state limit – and receive less arts, music and physical education.

In his remarks, the Vice President described how smaller class sizes in the early years can increase the likelihood that kids attend and graduate from college as well as how access to arts and music education may help keep kids engaged in school and prevent them from dropping out.
Unfortunately, kids across the country are seeing the kind of cuts that the Vice President saw at Oakstead. In the last 12 months we have lost nearly 200,000 education jobs. That’s why the American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to support 400,000 education jobs nationwide. These critical resources will help prevent lay-offs and allow districts like Pasco County to rehire teachers already laid off, as well as hire new teachers.
 

Vice President Joe Biden Shakes Hands with Students at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O' Lake, Florida

Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with students after discussing the American Jobs Act at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O' Lakes, Florida, October 4, 2011. (Official White House by David Lienemann)


 
“This is about giving these kids a chance,” said Vice President Biden. “We need the Jobs Act to jump start the economy overall, but, in the meantime, we have an emergency need to fill the hole, so we don’t put these kids behind the curve.”
 
The Vice President concluded by saying there’s no excuse for the nation’s children getting “lost” in our education system due a lack of teachers. “There’s no reason why any child should get lost anywhere if we take the action we should take and make the right priority choices about how we should spend our money right now.”
 
For more on why passing the American Jobs Act is critical to our children’s future, take a look at the White House report issued earlier this week, and learn about the President’s trip to Texas to highlight this issue.  
 
Vice President Joe Biden Speaks About the American Jobs Act at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O' Lakes, Florida

Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the American Jobs Act at Oakstead Elementary School in Land O' Lakes, Florida, October 4, 2011. (Official White House by David Lienemann)