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Laid-off Durham teacher urges Congress to fund education jobs

As North Carolina braces for more budget cuts, Gina Frutig takes her story to Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON - June 23, 2010 -

While Congress continues to grapple with an emergency supplemental funding bill, Gina Frutig, an elementary school teacher from Durham, N.C., joins National Education Association (NEA) members from Indiana, Illinois and California—who have all received pink slips—to urge their members of Congress to pass the “Education Jobs Fund.”  Without this infusion of money into state education budgets, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan estimates up to 300,000 educators across the nation could lose their jobs.

“The nation’s economic crisis has pushed public education to a tipping point, but there is still a chance to stave off more damage,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, “Congress needs to put students first by supporting emergency education job funding that will keep teachers and other essential personnel and programs in our schools. All students deserve the highest quality education, and their education shouldn’t be diminished because we lack the political will to act. Every parent, community member and elected official needs to understand the real consequences of this funding crisis.”

In late April, Frutig, a fourth-grade teacher, was told that her contract would not be renewed. Even before receiving a pink slip, Frutig, a single mother of two, would hesitate to go to the doctor when she got sick “because the co-pay and the medication might put me over my budget,” she said.  

“My own family is feeling the economic pinch, but this crisis is bigger than us,” added Frutig. “Budget cuts mean that my fourth-grade students will be in classes that are 50 percent larger when they return to school in the fall. As a teacher, I know overcrowded classes mean less attention for each student; as a parent, I am worried that my children will lose ground academically.”

School budgets across the country have been cut to the bone, forcing massive layoffs of teachers and education support professionals.  Some districts are moving to four-day school weeks, cutting critical services and programs for kids, and, in some places, even closing entire schools. These layoffs and cuts are coming at the same time that schools are facing rising demands for better academic outcomes.

In North Carolina, one of the states hardest hit by budget shortfalls, a projected 7,000 educators could receive pink slips.  If the “Education Jobs Fund” were to pass, the state would receive $667 million that could save thousands of K-12 education jobs.

“The end of the fiscal year is almost here, and we can’t allow our children to bear the brunt of the nation’s economic woes,” said Van Roekel.  “Enough is enough. The time to speak up for education and kids is now.”

Frutig hopes her visit with members of Congress on Capitol Hill will have an impact.  Frutig also has a message to other lawmakers:  She is paying close attention to their votes on the education jobs fund.

“I’ll be watching every vote not because I have nothing better to do, but because I can’t afford to put the responsibility in someone else’s hands,” said Frutig.  “I am confident that the federal and state elected officials will not let us down.”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Photo handouts of Gina Frutig meeting with North Carolina members of Congress are available by contacting NEA Public Relations at (202) 822-7823 or newsdeadline@nea.org

For more information on Speak Up for Education & Kids, visit http://www.facebook.com/speakupforkids
For more resources on education funding, please go to http://www.nea.org/funding
For more information on saving educators’ jobs, visit http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/
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Staci Maiers, NEA Public Relations, 202-822-7823, newsdeadline@nea.org