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NEA President comments on House economic recovery and reinvestment package

Road to economic recovery goes directly through America’s public schools

WASHINGTON - January 28, 2009 -

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a two-year, $150 billion federal investment aimed at injecting much needed funds into the nation’s schools, states and communities to cope with the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Senate is considering a similar measure.

Across America, educators and their families are feeling the economic pinch firsthand. Schools are reporting record numbers of students who are homeless or poor enough to qualify for free school meals and record numbers of students needing donated backpacks and school supplies because their families cannot afford to buy them.  Some states have already been forced to cut education services for children and lay off school staff.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“The timely action by the House of Representatives acknowledges the long-held belief of educators that the road to economic recovery and security goes directly through America’s public schools.

“We applaud Congress for acting swiftly to prevent further job cuts, jump-start the economy, and help struggling families, schools and communities. These funds will go a long way toward providing students with 21st century learning environments and ensuring great public schools for all students.

“Educators also welcome the fact that for the first time since the federal government became involved in public education, it took important steps to live up to its promise to fully fund programs for low-income (Title I) and special education students (IDEA).

“The infusion of targeted federal funds, the largest since World War II, into state coffers and local school districts for school construction and other projects will go a long way toward rebuilding, repairing, renovating and modernizing America’s aging public schools. The economic recovery package includes $14 billion for public school modernization, renovation and repair programs.

“More to the point, however, the funds will take pressure off state budgets to the tune of $79 billion to prevent further job cuts and will help infuse money and create jobs in communities where they are most needed. The package also provides $15.6 billion to increase the federal Pell Grant program by $500 and $6 billion for higher education modernization.

“But equally as important as creating jobs to stimulate the economy, modernizing schools addresses one of the most critical elements affecting student learning—the working conditions in which teachers and education support professionals can apply their knowledge and skills to most effectively help children learn.

“We urge the Senate to move quickly to act on an important economic recovery package.”

NEA conducted a detailed state-by-state and congressional district-by-congressional district analysis of the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which is posted here.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez
(202) 822-7823,