Stimulating Schools

February 08, 2009

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

When the House passed their version of the stimulus package, I was thrilled to see that the package included huge infrastructure investments for school construction and school food programs – with a large percentage tied to sustainable practices. However, this weekend it seemed to have turned around completely.

Yesterday an agreement had been reached by Senate moderates on the stimulus legislation that would cut over $80 billion including more than $20 billion in school infrastructure (including zeroing out the construction and food systems money) in favor of programs such as $30 billion in tax rebates for people who buy homes and cars. Tim Fernholz writes that the “former option is more stimulative to the overall economy and targets needed investments, while the latter has a small stimluative value, is regressive and would be a step towards puffing the housing bubble up again.”

This drives me crazy. The school infrastructure investment was not a controversial part of the bill; in fact, it was supposed to be baseball and apple pie stuff. Invest in infrastructure, help ailing schools, support education – it's all good. I don’t understand how a group of moderates can choose to completely slash education funding as a “compromise.” Noam Scheiber says it well: “What a relief that those fat-cats in bankrupt states and crumbling schools won't be shaking the rest of us down – not this time.”

If there is a time to get in the ear of your legislators, this is it. We need these programs directed back toward our schools!