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Letter to Senator Harkin in Support of his Keep Our Educators Working Act

April 13, 2010

 Dear Senator Harkin:


On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association, we would like to express our strong support for the Keep Our Educators Working Act.  Introduction of this bill is particularly urgent, as hundreds of thousands of educators across the country face layoffs and countless school districts prepare for devastating program cuts. 

As you know, the situation is critical. Across the country, educators are receiving “pink slips” for the next school year, and those who haven’t yet fear it may be just a matter of time.  We are losing talented educators at the same time we are increasing demands for better academic outcomes.  The implications of these layoffs are dire for our nation’s economic strength and, most importantly, for our children’s future. 

Not one fewer student is coming through our public school doors because of the economic crisis. Students still need educators to be there helping them, inspiring them, and educating them every single day.  Children get only one shot at an education and isn’t their fault they are in school during this time of economic crisis.  Layoffs, ballooning class sizes, and dramatic program cuts are shortchanging our students and jeopardizing our ability to compete in the global economy.

Federal action is imperative -- state budget shortfalls are expected to be as high as $180 billion to $190 billion in 2010 and 2011.  The Keep Our Educators Working Act would help address this crisis by creating a $23 billion “Education Jobs Fund,” modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This relief would be immediate and effective.  The SFSF has already saved some 300,000 education jobs and has been touted as one of the triumphs of the ARRA.  

For your information, NEA has developed a comprehensive packet of information highlighting the urgent need for an education jobs fund.  Materials, including a state-by-state compilation of layoffs and program cuts, are available at http://www.nea.org/lac.  We hope these will be useful in helping build support for your bill. 

We thank you for your leadership in introducing this timely and essential legislation.  We hope the Senate will act quickly to pass the bill — to save jobs, spur economic recovery, and ensure all students the quality education they deserve. 
 
Sincerely,

Kim Anderson 
Director of Government Relations