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Feb-26-2009 11:03printcomments

Biden, Duncan Urge Accountability, Speed in Spending AARA Education Funds

Meeting brings together state school heads with Vice President and Education Secretary.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Vice President Joe Biden

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Speaking with state school superintendents from around the country yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged swift action and exceptional accountability in the disbursement of education-related recovery funds.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law last week, represents America’s largest-ever investment in education. It provides funding to prevent teacher layoffs today and train the educators of tomorrow, expands Pell Grants and creates a tax credit to make college affordable for every American, and invests in proven-to-work early education programs.

“There is nothing more important to the future of our country than education,” said Vice President Biden after the meeting. “This is an extraordinarily difficult moment for our country - but the President and I believe that the toughest moments present the biggest opportunities. The Recovery Act includes an unprecedented investment in America’s schools. Now it’s up to all of us to make it work.”

Vice President Biden spoke to the group following a productive working session during which Secretary Duncan solicited advice and answered questions from the more than 40 state and territory education officials in the room. Additional school chiefs joined the meeting via conference call.

“We have an opportunity to bring about the dramatic change we need in education at the state level,” Secretary Duncan said at a press conference after the meeting. “We’re going to first and foremost protect children. We’re going to create and save literally hundreds of thousands of jobs. And we’re going to push a very, very strong reform agenda. These state school chiefs are going to be my partners every step of the way.”

Going forward, Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education will work with state school heads to ensure efficient and effective expenditure of the recovery funds which include:

$48 billion dollars to help states balance budgets, with much of that money going directly into education.

$31 billion dollars in Pell grants and tuition tax credits to make college affordable.

$5 billion for early childhood.

$25 billion in construction bonds for school modernization.

$25 billion for Title I and Special Education.

$5 billion fund to push reforms and reward excellence.

The meeting’s attendees also heard from Dr. Jill Biden – herself an educator for 28 years – who introduced her husband and spoke from personal experience about the importance of education to America’s future generations.

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