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Federal Legislative Update May 2010

May 28, 2010
May 21, 2010
May 18, 2010
May 14, 2010
May 7, 2010

News from Capitol Hill. . .

5/28/10

I think people sometimes forget that teachers are not the only staff being laid off. I have been both a teacher and a counselor. Counseling elementary students is my current position.

 I received a pink slip, the first in my 37-year career in education. I know the essential part that teachers play in the education of our nation's children, but I also know that in my role as counselor I can make it possible for students to learn and take advantage of the opportunities given to them by their teachers.

I believe that I make an even bigger difference in the lives of children who are severely depressed, anxious, or in a stressful home situation. Because so few mental health services are available in rural areas of California, a school counselor may be the only psychological support for these children. I believe that we should recognize the value of support personnel as we lament the continued cuts in education. — Kevin P.

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

This week, Congress received more than 20,000 calls from educators, parents, and concerned citizens about the urgent need to keep educators working and students learning. But the fight continues.

Congress will be in recess the week of May 31. When it returns, the House Appropriations Committee is poised to act on a bill that includes $23 billion in emergency funding to help save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators.

We need your help to keep build support and keep the pressure on:   

  • Contact Members of Congress back home. Members of Congress will be returning home for the Memorial Day recess. Call the local district office and let your Representative know how important an education jobs fund is to your school and your community. Check the Member’s website to see if he/she is holding a town hall meeting where you can speak up for education and kids.
  • Keep the calls coming! You can still call 1-866-608-6355 to contact your Representative in Congress. You will hear talking points and will be connected to the United States Capitol Switchboard — ask for your House Member. Tell your Representative that public education faces a budget catastrophe and that he/she should support including funding to save education jobs in the emergency funding bill (known as the “emergency supplemental” funding bill).

To keep up on the latest and support the effort:

  • Check out NEA’s new TV commercial, playing across the nation this week and calling for an education jobs package. Visit Education Votes, where you will find more tools to help you spread the word — television and radio ads, print ads, and audio news releases.
  • Become a “fan” of Speak up for Education and Kids on Facebook — a community of educators and concerned citizens – now more than 16,000 strong — who believe our nation has a responsibility to invest in education and avoid the short-sighted cuts that could deprive our students of the bright futures they deserve.   
  • Share your story. Is your job in jeopardy? Have you already received a “pink slip?” Tell us what is happening in your school and how it will impact your students.
  • Read what your colleagues across the country are saying about layoffs in their schools.

    News from Capitol Hill. . .

    5/21/10


    NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY TO SAVE EDUCATOR JOBS AND KEEP STUDENTS LEARNING, WEDNESDAY, MAY 26

    Next Wednesday, May 26, NEA will launch our National Speak Up for Education & Kids Campaign – beginning with a National Call-in Day.

    TAKE ACTION:

    • On Wednesday May 26th, call 1-866-608-6355 to contact your Representative in Congress.
    • You will hear talking points and will be connected to the United States Capitol Switchboard – ask for your House Member.
    • Tell your Representative that public education faces a budget catastrophe and that he/she should support including funding to save education jobs in the emergency funding bill (known as the “emergency supplemental” funding bill).

    With 300,000 education layoffs expected, our students are the ones who will suffer – with overcrowded classrooms; shortened school days and weeks; and less individual attention and help from counselors, nurses, teachers, and support professionals. How can our students succeed with less time in the classroom, fewer instructors, and fewer supports?

    Thousands of your colleagues are receiving pink slips every day. Layoffs of this many educators will also drive the national unemployment rates up even more. This would be a disaster in states that are already cash-strapped and even more of a disaster for the students we serve.

    Please Speak Up!!

    After you make your call, PLEASE forward this call-in day information to five friends, especially parents and other colleagues you know. Ask them to call Congress on May 26th and to forward this e-mail to five more friends. Congress can’t ignore a strong message from all across the nation. Make your voice heard! Participate in the National Call-In Day and speak up for education and kids!

    To keep up on the latest and support the effort:

    • Become a “fan” of Speak up for Education and Kids on Facebook -- a community of educators and concerned citizens – now more than 12,000 strong – who believe our nation has a responsibility to invest in education and avoid the short-sighted cuts that could deprive our students of the bright futures they deserve.
    • Share your story. Is your job in jeopardy? Have you already received a “pink slip?” Tell us what is happening in your school and how it will impact your students.
    • Read what your colleagues across the country are saying about layoffs in their schools.

    URGE CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION TO EXTEND EDUCATOR TAX DEDUCTION, UNEMPLOYMENT, AND HEALTH BENEFITS, AND PROVIDE URGENT PENSION RELIEF

    The House has not voted yet on “tax extenders” legislation (H.R. 4213) that includes a number of provisions of great importance to educators, but a vote is expected next week. Your help is needed to ensure passage in the House and to garner the 60 votes that will be needed to pass it in the Senate. The American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes, and Preventing Outsourcing Act will:

    • Extend aid to states to help cover Medicaid costs – to take pressure off state budgets and prevent cuts to education and other important priorities.
    • Provide relief for private pension plan sponsors to help deal with the dramatic losses incurred during the market crashes of 2008 and 2009.
    • Extend the tax deduction for educators’ out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses. This deduction has expired and must be extended in order to be available when educators file their taxes next year.
    • Extend unemployment benefits and COBRA health benefits until the end of 2010 – to help struggling families make ends meet and address the great instability in many of our students’ lives caused by family financial crises.

    The bottom line is that the tax extenders bill will help fund schools, ease financial burdens for educators who are increasingly paying for more and more school supplies for their students, and help our students' families survive during this economic crisis. We owe it to our students to protect them as much as possible from this financial crisis.

    Contact your Members of Congress Today! Urge your Members of Congress to support the tax extenders bill (H.R. 4213).


    News from Capitol Hill. . .

    5/18/10


    SPECIAL ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION TO EXTEND EDUCATOR TAX DEDUCTION, UNEMPLOYMENT, AND HEALTH BENEFITS, AND PROVIDE URGENT PENSION RELIEF

    On Thursday, May 20, the House of Representatives will consider legislation (H.R. 4213) that includes a number of provisions of great importance to educators. This legislation—known as the “tax extenders” bill will:

    • Extend aid to states to help cover Medicaid costs – to take pressure off state budgets and prevent cuts to education and other important priorities.
    • Provide relief for private pension plan sponsors to help deal with the dramatic losses incurred during the market crashes of 2008 and 2009.
    • Extend the tax deduction for educators’ out-of-pocket classroom supply expenses. This deduction has expired and must be extended in order to be available when educators file their taxes next year.
    • Extend unemployment benefits and COBRA health benefits until the end of 2010 – to help struggling families make ends meet and address the great instability in many of our students’ lives caused by family financial crises.
    The bottom line is that the tax extenders bill will help fund schools, ease financial burdens for educators who are increasingly paying for more and more school supplies for their students, and help our students' families survive during this economic crisis. We owe it to our students to protect them as much as possible from this financial crisis.

    Contact your Members of Congress Today! Urge your Representative to Vote YES on the tax extenders bill (H.R. 4213).


    News from Capitol Hill. . .

    5/14/10


    BREAKING NEWS: White House Calls for an Education Jobs Package!


    On May 13, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the White House called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to act now to save 300,000 teacher and support professional jobs jeopardized by state budget cuts. The Obama Administration called for “swift, bold action” from Congress, writing on the White House blog, “our teachers are vital to our nation’s success and if we don’t act now and act boldly, we will not only endanger the future of tens of millions of students but threaten to undermine the recovery of our economy.” Read the full White House letter on NEA’s Education Votes website.

    SPEAK UP FOR JOAN AND OUR STUDENTS! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!

    I have been working in education for more than 13 years now, the last seven as a teacher. I love teaching and I, like my colleagues, care about the success of all our students. I anticipate receiving my pink slip within the next two weeks. This is highly frustrating because I love what I do and my students benefit from my experience and my genuine concern for their growth. Many of our teachers will not be back in the classroom. Already the classes are overloaded, and this is in elementary school.

    We are not only educators, but mentors, advisors, friends, and advocates for the students we serve. I feel scared for some of these growing minds, to not have these people in their lives to help guide and encourage them. I wake up wondering, what will happen to the kids?

    I realize I might have to give up my dream career – or rather, it will be taken from me. My incredible colleagues and I are highly qualified, highly motivated, and creative and flexible in meeting the needs of a diverse population. I can find new ways to share my gifts with students in the future, but given the likelihood of the pink slip around the corner, I may just move into a private sector job and let the chips fall where they may.Joan from Washington State

    Sadly, stories like Joan’s are being played out in communities all across the country.

    This is an education jobs EMERGENCY and Congress needs to act NOW! In the House, Representative Obey (D-WI), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, is working to include education jobs funding in an emergency supplemental appropriations (funding) bill. We need House members to support including this funding in the emergency bill.

    In the Senate, Senator Tom Harkin‘s (D-IA) Keep Our Educators Working Act (S.3206) now has 27 co-sponsors. Senator Harkin will offer his bill as an amendment to emergency funding legislation later this month. We need Senators to vote for the Harkin amendment!

    TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress that this is an emergency -- the future of our children is at stake!

    • Urge your Senators to vote for the Harkin amendment to add the Keep Our Educators Working Act to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill.
    • Become a “fan” of Speak up for Education and Kids on Facebook -- a community of educators and concerned citizens – now more than 9,000 strong – who believe our nation has a responsibility to invest in education and avoid the short-sighted cuts that could deprive our students of the bright futures they deserve.
    • Share your story. Is your job in jeopardy? Have you already received a “pink slip?” Tell us what is happening in your school and how it will impact your students.
    • Read what your colleagues across the country are saying about layoffs in their schools.
    • Forward this e-mail to at least five friends who support public education!

    Additional Information:

    Read the testimony of Iowa State Education Association President Chris Bern on “Education Funding and the Education Jobs Crisis,” presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, on April 14, 2010. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, also testified at this hearing and added his support for an education jobs bill.

    Check out NEA’s education jobs advocacy packet, including estimates of layoffs and program cuts by state, stories from real educators who have lost or fear losing their jobs, and news clips and videos from around the country on the education jobs crisis.

    See how many education jobs a jobs bill will save/create in your state.

    See how much more money your state would get under the jobs bill than it would have a chance to “win” under the competition for “Race to the Top” Funds.

    See how much funding your state will lose once monies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expire, unless Congress provides more funding in a jobs/economic recovery bill.

    ESEA/NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REAUTHORIZATION: TELL CONGRESS TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR KIDS

    Reauthorization of ESEA has kicked into high gear. NEA is urging Congress to work with educators to craft a reauthorization package that:

    • Promotes innovation and 21st century skills in public schools, using research-based approaches and strong collaboration among stakeholders;
    • Provides students with a rich, challenging curriculum that allows multiple ways to show what they have learned;
    • Elevates the profession to attract great educators and leaders for every public school;
    • Facilitates greater parental and community involvement and engagement in all schools; and
    • Champions adequate, equitable, and sustainable resources/opportunities for all public schools.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Additional Information:

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the May 4th hearing on “Graduating America.”

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 28th hearing on “Meeting the Needs of Special Populations.” Materials address the needs of students with disabilities, English language learners, homeless students and students from migrant families.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 27th hearing on “Standards and Assessments.” Materials include a one-pager and supporting documents on NEA’s position on effective assessment systems.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 22nd hearing on “Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child.” Materials address issues such as student health, safety, and well-being; teaching and learning conditions; parental and community engagement; equity in resources and opportunities; and class size reduction.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate HELP Committee for the April 19th field hearing on “Innovation in Public Schools.” Materials include NEA papers on elevating the profession and ensuring every child a quality teacher and links to articles and stories on innovative programs to ensure great educators.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate HELP Committee for the April 15th hearing on “Teachers and Leaders.” Materials include NEA papers on elevating the profession and ensuring every child a quality teacher and links to articles and stories on innovative programs to ensure great educators. These same materials were submitted to the House Education and Labor Committee for a May 4 hearing.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 14th hearing on “School Turnaround.” Materials include examples of successful collaborative transformation models and links to videos highlighting successful transformation programs.


    News from Capitol Hill. . .

    5/07/10


    SPEAK UP FOR EDUCATION AND KIDS: HELP SAVE EDUCATORS’ JOBS 

    I have worked as a paraprofessional in Title I schools for almost 32 years. Two weeks ago, my principal told me that my job will be eliminated next year because there isn’t enough money in next year’s Title 1 budget to fund it. Two other paraprofessionals in my school were told that their jobs are gone next year as well. Our replacements will be paid by the hour and receive no benefits, so their salaries are lower. They will have to be trained in what has been second nature to us for years.

    We are heartbroken to leave our teachers, our students and our school home. It has been wonderful to watch our students as they grow from kindergarten to 5th grade. Now, we are being thrown out because we cost too much. It’s just not right. – Barbara from Florida

    I am a career teacher. While in college, I was steered towards law. They said I was “too smart” to settle for teaching. I didn’t settle; I chose teaching. And for the past 25 years, that is what I have been doing. The hours have been long — long enough to require support and sacrifice from my family. The demands are high. Much of my salary goes back into the classrooms where I teach. Summers have been spent earning my Master’s and Doctorate. But the rewards have been great — not the financial rewards, but the intangible rewards of interacting with great kids and watching them transform into independent seekers of knowledge.

    This will most likely be my last year teaching. Arizona has dramatically cut funding for education. Teaching positions have been cut, administrator positions have been cut, and programs are now being cut. I am a gifted specialist. That is one of the programs slated to be cut. Arizona just passed legislation that eliminates seniority for teachers. In fact, there cannot be even a hint of loyalty or seniority. So when the gifted programs go, all the teachers of the gifted will lose their jobs. We cannot transfer to another teaching position, regardless of spotless records and excellent evaluations and years of dedication and sacrifice. We simply will lose our jobs.

    During the summer, if positions open, we will be able to reapply to our district and compete with the general public for another type of teaching position. But with over 50 teaching positions already cut, there simply will be no other positions to apply for.


    Maybe I should have pursued the career in law. My grades were certainly high enough. The hours could not be any longer than what I dedicate to teaching. I chose teaching though, partly for the security. I chose teaching, because I knew I could make a difference. It is sad that we cannot support the teachers who have spent their lives supporting a generation of children. – Barb from Arizona

    These are just two of the hundreds of NEA members who have shared their layoff stories and of the hundreds of thousands of educators across the country receiving pink slips.

    Cyberlobbyists – The situation grows more urgent every day.  This is an education jobs emergency!  Students will show up for school this fall to find fewer teachers, bus drivers, counselors, reading specialists and nurses.  Students need individual attention, not crowded classrooms and fewer educators, to succeed in the 21st century and help keep America competitive. 

    YOUR MESSAGE IS GETTING THROUGH! Senator Tom Harkin‘s (D-IA) Keep Our Educators Working Act (S.3206) would provide $23 billion to help stave off educator layoffs.  Thanks to your efforts, the bill now has 26 sponsors.  And, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are calling upon their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to approve education jobs legislation.  Several members of the House, including Reps. Bobby Etheridge (NC) and Dina Titus (NV) took to the floor this week to describe how educators played a key role in their personal and professional development.  See their statements on our new Education Votes website.

    The House has already passed an education jobs bill.   But, to save jobs, the Senate needs to act NOW!

    TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress that America will never get ahead by shortchanging our kids and underfunding our schools. 

    • Become a “fan” of Speak up for Education and Kids on Facebook -- a community of educators and concerned citizens who believe our nation has a responsibility to invest in education and avoid the short-sighted cuts that could deprive our students of the bright futures they deserve.
        
    • Urge your Senator to cosponsor the Keep Our Educators Working Act and to push for its immediate passage. 
    • Urge the President to support immediate action to save and create hundreds of thousands of education jobs.
    • Urge your Representative to cosponsor the Local Jobs for America Act, which Representative Miller (D-CA) has introduced in the House.  Although the House has already acted, the Miller bill sends a strong message about the need to get an education job package done and enacted into law. 
    • Share your story.  Is your job in jeopardy? Have you already received a “pink slip?”  Tell us what is happening in your school and how it will impact your students. 
    • Read what your colleagues across the country are saying about layoffs in their schools. 
    • Visit our new Education Votes site to share your story and read about other actions you can take to make sure your voice is heard on the issues that matter the most. 
    • Forward this e-mail to at least five friends who support public education!

    Additional Information:

    Read the testimony of Iowa State Education Association President Chris Bern on “Education Funding and the Education Jobs Crisis,” presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, on April 14, 2010.   U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, also testified at this hearing and added his support for an education jobs bill. 

    Check out NEA’s education jobs advocacy packet, including estimates of layoffs and program cuts by state, stories from real educators who have lost or fear losing their jobs, and news clips and videos from around the country on the education jobs crisis.  

    See how many education jobs a jobs bill will save/create in your state.

    See how much more money your state would get under the jobs bill than it would have a chance to “win” under the competition for “Race to the Top” Funds. 

    See how much funding your state will lose once monies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expire, unless Congress provides more funding in a jobs/economic recovery bill. 

    ESEA/NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REAUTHORIZATION: TELL CONGRESS TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR KIDS

    Reauthorization of ESEA has kicked into high gear.  NEA is urging Congress to work with educators to craft a reauthorization package that:

    • Promotes innovation and 21st century skills in public schools, using research-based approaches and strong collaboration among stakeholders;
    • Provides students with a rich, challenging curriculum that allows multiple ways to show what they have learned;
    • Elevates the profession to attract great educators and leaders for every public school;
    • Facilitates greater parental and community involvement and engagement in all schools; and
    • Champions adequate, equitable, and sustainable resources/opportunities for all public schools.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Additional Information: 

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the May 4th hearing on “Graduating America.”

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 28th hearing on “Meeting the Needs of Special Populations.”  Materials address the needs of students with disabilities, English language learners, homeless students and students from migrant families.  

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 27th hearing on “Standards and Assessments.”  Materials include a one-pager and supporting documents on NEA’s position on effective assessment systems.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 22nd hearing on “Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child.”  Materials address issues such as student health, safety, and well-being; teaching and learning conditions; parental and community engagement; equity in resources and opportunities; and class size reduction.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate HELP Committee for the April 19th field hearing on “Innovation in Public Schools.”  Materials include NEA papers on elevating the profession and ensuring every child a quality teacher and links to articles and stories on innovative programs to ensure great educators.

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate HELP Committee for the April 15th hearing on “Teachers and Leaders.”   Materials include NEA papers on elevating the profession and ensuring every child a quality teacher and links to articles and stories on innovative programs to ensure great educators.  These same materials were submitted to the House Education and Labor Committee for a May 4 hearing. 

    Read NEA’s letter and supporting materials submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for the April 14th hearing on “School Turnaround.”  Materials include examples of successful collaborative transformation models and links to videos highlighting successful transformation programs.