President Obama plans to announce a jobs package next week. For those of us angered by Washington’s recent predilection for self-inflicted economic wounds, this is very good news.
But as always, the devil is in the details. Especially in a climate where both political and popular forces are skeptical of the government’s ability to help on the jobs front, the plan needs to be crafted to resonate with the public and to get a strong bang for the buck.
That’s where FAST! comes in. Fix America’s Schools Today is a proposal — from the 21st Century School Fund, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — to address the backlog of repairs at the nation’s 100,000 public schools. It’s an idea that efficiently marries big problems to a big solution.
One big problem is that most school districts in our country have been deferring maintenance and repairs for years. The has led to inefficient, and thus expensive, energy use, unsafe drinking water, mold, poor air quality, inadequate fire safety systems and structural dangers. With local governments hammered by the recession, school districts do not have the resources to address this backlog, nor will they for many years to come.
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