Biden and Duncan stress stimulus funding for education

08/19/09 Seán Kinane
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Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan were in Orlando today and emphasized how federal stimulus dollars have been used for schools. Biden, whose wife is a teacher, spoke to about 150 teachers, parents, students, and politicians at Jackson Middle School.

Biden says the recovery act was not just “$787 billion of public works projects,” it’s also relief for people who have suffered the most from the economic meltdown.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved jobs at Jackson Middle School, in the Orange County school district, and throughout the state.

“We have to get dramatically better as a country,” he said

Duncan, who previously had the title of CEO of Chicago Public Schools, suggested that one way to improve the country’s educational system would be to increase the number of hours in a school day, increase the number of school days in a week, and lengthen the school year.

He also favors an accountability system that uses data to track progress of students.

Both Biden and Duncan suggested that what they are calling a “Race to the Top Fund” would be used to challenge the educational status quo.

Lisa Ferreira is a 7th grade ESOL reading teacher at Jackson Middle School but she has three other jobs in order to make ends meet. Even though she voted for the Obama-Biden ticket, until Wednesday Ferreira had “negative” feelings toward the progress of the administration.

Janet Rasmussen, a parent of a 7th grader at Jackson Middle, agrees that stimulus funding helps education.

Another teacher at Jackson Middle, Jacqueline Centeno, is the compliance teacher for the ESOL department. Like the other teachers and parents WMNF spoke with, Centeno agrees with Education Secretary Arne Duncan that longer school hours would benefit students. So does Suk Yeung, whose daughter is in the 7th grade International Baccalaureate program at Jackson Middle.

You can learn more about how recovery act funds are being spent in the state on the website

Joe Biden

Arne Duncan

The Florida Office of Economic Recovery

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