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NEA Survey: educators are very concerned about ballooning class sizes

Gutting classes and education programs due to budget cuts may harm student achievement


WASHINGTON - April 28, 2010 -

An overwhelming majority of educators, nine out of 10, are very concerned about ballooning class sizes and deep cuts to arts, technology or sports programs as a result of the worst economic recession facing states in generations according to an interactive survey conducted last night during a telephone town hall meeting hosted by NEA involving more than 1700 educators. The survey also found that two thirds of educators are worried student achievement will suffer if class sizes increase, depriving students of the individual attention they deserve.

“When educators lose their jobs, students lose too,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We’re looking at more crowded classrooms, and fewer counselors, teachers, nurses, and educators who help ensure that every student gets the individual attention needed to succeed.”

Van Roekel hosted the meeting with more than 1700 of the association’s members to launch a more targeted and aggressive grassroots effort to push Congress to act on legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The “Keep our Educators Working Act” (S. 3206) would inject much-needed funds into states’ coffers to stave off the states' economic crisis. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill in December.

During the conference call, participants were asked to rate their level of concern on how budget cuts and layoffs will affect student achievement. Of the more than 500 participants who responded using their touch-tone phone, nine out of 10 said they were very concerned about the negative impact of cuts on student achievement. In response to a question about the ripple effects in the classroom of the budget cuts, one out of three expressed concerned about ballooning class sizes and one out of three worried about depriving students of the individual attention they need.

Many states are still putting together budgets for the next fiscal year, but NEA anticipates “funding cliffs” that will negatively affect public school employees and their ability to provide all students with a world-class education. State and local budget shortfalls are resulting in a devastating number of educators receiving layoff notices for the upcoming school year, with even more expected in the coming months. Some school districts have announced increases in student fees to make up for lost revenues.

“The situation is serious and getting worse by the day,” said Van Roekel. “Parents, like educators, don’t want their schools to lose their music or arts programs, or see 35 or 45 students in the classroom. They don’t want their kids to walk across town because of fewer bus routes and drivers. They don’t want a shorter school week. They want a great public school for their child.”

Already, educators across the country are jumping into action. In Illinois, a rally to keep schools open and prevent harmful cuts drew more than 15,000 educators, and more are expected this spring and summer. Additionally, they have sent nearly 150,000 emails to Congress in support of the legislation since December. Van Roekel is urging all educators to keep up the pressure and share their stories with the press and their elected leaders in Washington, DC.  He also wants educators, parents, and community leaders to visit www.educationvotes.nea.org and get involved.

“Our nation cannot afford to stand by as state legislatures across the country attempt to cut education budgets and balance their books on the backs of students and public schools,” said Van Roekel. “Digging out of this economic ditch is a shared responsibility. We will rollup our sleeves and do our part if Congress and the president do theirs—pass the Keep Our Educators Working Act now.”

For additional information, please visit www.educationvotes.nea.org

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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, mgonzalez@nea.org