Rebuilding schools could be one big job creator

A playground at the Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences in Los Angeles, California.

Steve Chiotakis: Americans are going to work. They're going back to work after a long holiday weekend. And job creation is weighing heavily on Congress and the White House as they get back to their respective jobs as well. President Obama gives his big jobs speech later this week before Congress. Some are hoping he'll talk about schools -- specifically, repairing them. It's one idea supporters say could create thousands of jobs.

From the Marketplace education desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: There's plenty of talk about "fixing our schools" - from improving test scores to training teachers. This plan is more concerned with leaky roofs and crumbling ceilings.

Jared Bernstein was an economic adviser in the Obama Administration. He's now with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Jared Bernstein: The work that we're talking about in school repairs -- insulation, retrofits, repairing windows, stuff like that -- is very labor-intensive work. We think we could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, say over the next 12 to 18 months.

As for how to pay for it in this era of tight budgets? Bernstein says ending oil and gas industry tax breaks would raise about $50 billion over ten years.

The President has proposed closing those loopholes before, and Republicans in the House shot it down.

Still, Bernstein thinks school repair grants could get bipartisan support by winning over powerful teachers unions, and of course parents whose kids are heading back to those neglected schools.

I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.


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