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Letter to the Senate on Including Education Jobs Funding in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill

May 17, 2010

RE:  NATIONAL EDUCATION EMERGENCY!


Dear Senator:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to vote YES on an amendment to be offered by Senator Harkin (D-IA) to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that would add funding to save education jobs.  Votes associated with this issue WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress. 

Our nation is facing an education emergency— a catastrophe that is growing worse by the day and threatening our children’s, and our nation’s, future:

  • According to a recent report from the American Association of School Administrators, nearly 300,000 educators have received or will receive pink slips for the next school year.
  • More than 80 percent of school districts across the country have had to layoff educators, leading to crowded classrooms and dramatic cuts to after-school programs, arts, music, sports, and even subjects like social studies and history. 
  • In some places, the school day and school week are being shortened.  This will impact state tax revenues as some parents may leave the workforce or accept part-time employment to care for younger students on days when they are not in school. 
  • Unemployment numbers continue to rise.  The latest figures show a national unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, with 6.7 million people now classified as “long-term unemployed.” 

Education reform can’t happen if there are no teachers in the classroom.  Fulfilling the promise of public education requires investing in the quality staff necessary to make sure every child has the individual attention and assistance necessary to excel.  In contrast, massive layoffs will lessen the quality of education a student receives -- a result that may prove irreversible in the long-run. 

We have heard from thousands of our members and have collected hundreds of stories.  The same scenario is playing all over the country — putting our children’s education at great risk. 
Children get only one shot at an education.  It is not their fault they are in school during an economic crisis.  

A national emergency requires immediate action.  And, this is clearly an emergency.  State fiscal years begin July 1st.  State Fiscal Stabilization Funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- called “one of the triumphs” of ARRA by the head of the Council of Economic Advisers -- are running out.  President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and the nation’s governors have all called for an education jobs package.  Last week, the Administration sent a letter to congressional leaders urging inclusion of education jobs funding in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. 

Including education jobs funding in the emergency supplemental bill is the fastest way to get needed relief to every state.  Again, we strongly urge your support for the Harkin amendment. 

Our children’s future is in your hands.

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson 
Director of Government Relations