Public Tells Senator Brown To Protect Teacher Jobs
OEA Tele-Town Hall Meeting Attracts 2,000 Educators and Concerned Community Members
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), fielded questions from educators, parents, community group members, and citizens concerned about the escalating amount of teacher layoffs throughout Ohio via a telephone town hall meeting. The call, sponsored by the Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association, attracted more than 2,000 participants.
Participants on the call made it clear: Education reform does not start by distributing layoff notices to hundreds of teachers across the state. The reference relates to the “Keep Our Educators Working Act,” which would provide $23 billion to extend the State Fiscal Stabilization aid from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
State and local budget cuts have forced many school districts to distribute layoff notices to hundreds of educators, as well as cut programs to fill budget shortfalls. Projections indicate nearly 1,000 educators will be “pink slipped” in Ohio.
A major concern for many of the callers was centered on the impact these layoffs will have on students—ballooning class sizes, additional program cuts, fewer counselors, nurses, reading specialists and other critically needed educators who ensure that each student gets the individualized attention needed.
“We are facing an immediate crisis with state and local budgets that will take teachers out of the classroom,” said Brown. “Our students –especially those in our most economically distressed communities – should not pay the price. We need to take action to protect education from these devastating budget cuts.”
Callers pressed Brown to help keep children learning and keep educators in schools by urging his colleagues in the Senate to pass the already House-approved “Keep Our Educators Working Act.”
This spring, as the state’s proposed budget dipped well below school needs, districts responded by sending out layoff notices. School officials say the shortfalls are the result of federal economic recovery funds drying up—with the state unable to fill in the funding gaps.
The federal stimulus bill was critically important to Ohio, as nearly 8,000 education jobs — teachers, librarians, nurses and support workers—were saved.
Patricia Frost-Brooks, president of the Ohio Education Association said, “It’s a mistake to cut school funding—and issuing pink slips to teachers is not a solution to solving the state’s deficit problem. We are in the business of building America and growing our knowledge capital. But it will be hard to do with a classroom of 28 students and fewer programs to offer.”
The call also gave Brown the opportunity to talk about other issues critical to public education, such as charter schools, community and parental involvement and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known for No Child Left Behind.
Brown said, “With the ESEA reauthorization we have to move beyond identifying the gaps and start creating smart strategic systems for improvement across the board.” Brown emphasized that in addition to parental involvement there must be a school-community partnership in place.