In his State of the Union addresslast night President Obama reminded the nation that education equals employment.
In the First Lady’s box sat a single mother from North Carolina whose studies at a community college earned her a high-tech position after she had lost a job as a mechanic.
The President wants states to require students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. Given the global economic challenges we confront it is essential we provide every American with the opportunity for a quality education. But that is not possible if our educational infrastructure is in disrepair.
Last September the President proposed spending $30 billion dollars as part of his American Jobs Act to modernize and upgrade schools and community colleges. The President should not retreat from this important proposal. Not only would it be a valuable investment in our children, but it also would quickly create more high-paying jobs here in the United States.
As president of JE Dunn Construction, a construction company that is a national top 10 builder of educational facilities, I have seen first-hand the need for major renovation in outdated school facilities.
We are already working on updating many educational facilities around the country, and there are many more badly in need of repair and renovation to improve the learning environment for our children.
Inner-city schools averaging 60-70 years in age too often have poor heating and inadequate lighting. A child cannot learn well if he is shivering in his classroom while squinting to read his textbook. Other schools have no air conditioning even though the school year in some districts starts during the heat of the summer or extends through the summer. Buildings built for baby boomers are energy inefficient, which causes higher operating and maintenance costs over time. Schools also need state-of-the-art technology to teach students for the 21st century high-tech world.
Sustainable building practices need to be utilized in renovations, additions and new construction. Parents and students are becoming educated on the energy, environmental, and cost benefits at the local and global levels. The saving in energy provides a payback for the improvements and more. We are seeing many educational facilities convert to green building practices systems. That’s responsible spending that pays off in the long run because of the decrease in energy costs.
Though I am a fiscal conservative who wants a balanced federal budget, I recognize the need for spending on essential projects now so I encourage Congress to support President Obama's proposed investment in education. The bill would provide a one-time stimulus for our national education infrastructure at a time when it is desperately needed.