Commentary | Economic Growth

Don’t forget crumbling schools in crafting a stimulus

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by John S. Irons, Research and Policy Director, Economic Policy Institute

As many have noted, an ideal stimulus would both get the economy moving today while meeting the long-term needs of tomorrow. Investing in our national infrastructure certainly meets these dual goals, and has already been part of the discussion. However, while funding for roads, bridges, public transit and water systems has gotten plenty of attention, we cannot forget about the need to repair and improve our nation’s schools. At least an additional $127-322 billion is needed to bring facilities into good overall condition, according to a 2000 study by the National Center for Education Statistics. A Department of Education survey published in 2007 found that 43% of schools indicate that the condition of their facilities “interferes with the delivery of instruction” (see National Center for Education Statistics). Recovery funds could be distributed according to existing formulas (e.g. Title I) or by other mechanisms designed to ensure that funds were committed quickly. Increased funding could have an immediate impact since a significant infusion into school…
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As many have noted, an ideal stimulus would both get the economy moving today while meeting the long-term needs of tomorrow. Investing in our national infrastructure certainly meets these dual goals, and has already been part of the discussion.

However, while funding for roads, bridges, public transit and water systems has gotten plenty of attention, we cannot forget about the need to repair and improve our nation’s schools. At least an additional $127-322 billion is needed to bring facilities into good overall condition, according to a 2000 study by the National Center for Education Statistics. A Department of Education survey published in 2007 found that 43% of schools indicate that the condition of their facilities “interferes with the delivery of instruction” (see National Center for Education Statistics).

Recovery funds could be distributed according to existing formulas (e.g. Title I) or by other mechanisms designed to ensure that funds were committed quickly. Increased funding could have an immediate impact since a significant infusion into school districts’ capital budgets would unclog maintenance backlogs and would allow districts to address longer-term needs, such as reducing energy usage or expanding capacity.

Significant funding for school repair would create lasting and tangible assets–something people could see and feel–which would be a welcome, confidence-boosting departure from other recovery efforts (like the TARP program) that few understand.

Click here for the original post and other economists’ suggestions of underappreciated stimulus ideas.


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