With students heading back to school, President Obama is accusing Republicans of wanting to cut education funding to give tax breaks to the wealthy, saying their economic plan "undercuts our future."
"This year, several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school," the president says in his weekly address. More than 300,000 local education jobs have been lost since the end of the recession, according to a new White House report on the impact of teacher layoffs.
Obama says cuts in education "force kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year."
Even in tough fiscal times, Obama says states should make education a priority, but adds, "Congress should be willing to help out - because this affects all of us."
"That's why part of the jobs bill that I sent to Congress last September included support for states to prevent further layoffs and to rehire teachers who'd lost their jobs. But here we are - a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off - and Congress still hasn't done anything about it," he says.
The president says the Republicans' economic plan would "make the situation even worse."
"It would actually cut funding for education - which means fewer kids in Head Start, fewer teachers in our classrooms, and fewer college students with access to financial aid - all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires," he says. "That's backwards. That's wrong. That plan doesn't invest in our future; it undercuts our future."
Obama touts the steps he has taken to boost the nation's education system, including instituting the Race to the Top competitive grant program, giving states flexibility on No Child Left Behind requirements, and reforming the student loan program.