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Letter to Conferees with NEA's Requests for the Agreement on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

February 10, 2009

Dear Conferee:


On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to provide as much funding for education as possible in the conference agreement for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

Our nation’s families and communities are hurting.  We are confronting the most severe economic problems in generations.  Millions of Americans are struggling.  We must act quickly and responsibly to enact a plan as bold as the challenges we face.  Investments in education will take pressure off strained state budgets, save and create jobs, and put money back into our communities.

Specifically, we urge the conference committee to:

  • Accept the House-passed funding ($20 billion) for K-12 and higher education school modernization grants.  Modernizing schools is a win-win proposition.  This funding will jump-start local economies and stimulate the creation of thousands of new jobs in the construction industry and among the many construction industry suppliers, ranging from architects and engineers to roofing contractors and other workers who design and build our nation’s schools.  In fact, public investments in school construction have led to positive ripple effects on state economies from coast-to-coast.  Equally important, this funding will ensure the modern learning environments necessary for student success in the 21st century.  
  • Accept the House-passed funding level for the State Stabilization Fund.  This funding offers an effective, efficient way to stimulate the economy, protect and create jobs, and shore up distressed communities.  It will reach every community in the nation and the impact will be felt in every city, small town, and rural area.  And, because much of the funds would flow through state formulas designed to provide assistance to those areas most in need, additional funding would help save jobs in the very communities where they are needed the most.

In addition, we urge you to:

  • Accept the $13 billion House-passed funding level for Title I. 
  • Retain the $13 billion provided for special education in both the House and Senate versions.
  • Accept the House provision to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $500, and provide the highest level possible for key higher education programs such as Work Study, Perkins loans, and Teacher Quality Enhancement.
  • Accept the House level of $13.7 billion for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which will provide a $2,500 expanded tax credit for college tuition and related expenses.
  • Accept the highest level possible for Head Start and School Lunch.
  • Accept the House funding level for statewide data systems, which will be critical given that both the House and Senate bills require states to have such a data system in place.

We thank you for your consideration of our views on these urgent issues. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy