Letter to full House on the Jobs Bill
June 08, 2010
RE: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE EDUCATION JOBS FUND: IT IS PARTIALLY PAID FOR
Our nation is facing an education emergency– a catastrophe growing worse by the day in K-12 and postsecondary education. We are experiencing the worst financial crisis since the great Depression, and 300,000 educator layoffs are predicted nationwide -- threatening our children’s, and our nation’s, future.
Congress must act now to prevent the devastating, and likely irreversible, impacts of this crisis, by including an education jobs fund in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. Doing so is the only way to ensure that the funds get quickly to where they are needed. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the $23 billion for the education jobs fund will be offset by over half, due to effects such as higher tax collections and reduced need for social spending. Such factors are estimated to reduce the actual cost by about $12 billion – to $10.8 billion. In other words, almost half of this fund is paid for.
An education jobs fund as part of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill is imperative:
- For our communities: The loss of 300,000 education jobs will have a ripple effect across the nation – causing the loss of an additional 90,000 jobs due to reduced consumer spending and less revenue. In addition, shortening of the school day and week 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. Governors and other state leaders are calling on Congress to help by passing an immediate education jobs fund (see attached excerpts from Governor’s letters).
- For our students: More than 80 percent of school districts across the country have had to, or expect 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. In the post-secondary world, students are being turned away from higher education institutions or prevented from taking classes they need to graduate because faculty layoffs have left schools without sufficient staff to meet student needs. At the same time, community college enrollments have surged, with some increases as high as 50 percent, as these critical institutions struggle to serve those out of work who are trying to improve their chances of re-employment in a very difficult job market. Jobs funds are needed to hire faculty and support staff to help meet the demand.
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. The short- and long-term impacts on students will be significant. Unless Congress acts now, students will return to school in the fall to find fewer school staff – teachers, librarians, counselors, reading specialists, and education support professionals – to give them the individual attention so essential to academic success. They will not be able to make up the ground lost due to this crisis. Children get only one shot at an education. It is not their fault they are in school during an economic crisis. Simply put, massive layoffs will lessen the quality of education a student receives -- a result that may prove irreversible in the long-run.
- For our nation: Funding education jobs now is an investment in our nation’s future – helping to ensure an educated workforce and citizenry for the 21st century. If we don’t pay now, we will pay later in the form remediation costs for a less prepared, less competitive workforce, and an increased demand for social safety net spending. Unemployment numbers remain at record levels. Adding 300,000 educators to the unemployment rolls will cause the rate to rise even more, and increase the number of people who need unemployment benefits and COBRA subsidies.
Over 80 national organizations support passage of an emergency education jobs fund (see attached list). This crisis demands immediate action. Our students, our communities, and our nation as a whole cannot afford the price of any further delay. Congress must pass an education jobs fund as part of the emergency supplemental bill.
Director of Government Relations