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Letter to the Senate Finance Committee supporting inclusion of the full America’s Better Classroom Act in the stimulus package

January 14, 2009

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to include the provisions the America’s Better Classroom Act (ABC Act) in the economic recovery package.  The ABC Act will provide resources to build, repair, and renovate America’s schools, thereby creating jobs and infusing much-needed resources into struggling communities. 

America’s schools are in desperate need of repair and renovation.  Across the country, students learn in overcrowded classrooms with peeling paint, leaking roofs, and faulty wiring.  Some schools hold classes in temporary trailers, converted closets, and hallways.  Too many students attend schools that lack basic electrical and telecommunications equipment necessary for connection to the Internet or the use of new education technologies.  Students attending schools in less than adequate condition face direct impacts on academic achievement, as well as significant dangers to personal health and safety. 

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has pointed to more than $100 billion in needed repairs to U.S. public schools — well-defined projects that can be quickly implemented.  EPI estimates that $20 billion in such infrastructure repairs would create 280,000 jobs.

The America’s Better Classroom Act will provide for the issuance of more than $25 billion in bonds for school modernization and new construction projects nationwide.  Under the bill, the federal government would provide tax credits to bond holders in lieu of interest payments, and the state or school district would only be responsible for repaying the principal.  This would save millions of dollars in interest payments for states and districts and help communities stretch limited resources to pay for additional school facility projects and essential education programs.

We believe school construction resources such as those provided under the ABC Act are an essential element of any economic recovery package.  We urge you to include the full ABC Act in the economic recovery plan.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust                                                                             Randall Moody

Director of Government Relations                                      Manager of Federal Advocacy