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Laid-off Indiana educator urges Congress to fund education jobs

NEA members from N.C., Ill., Ind. and Calif. take their stories to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON - June 23, 2010 -

As Congress continues to grapple with the emergency supplemental funding bill, Lisa Koester, a special education teacher from Evansville, Ind., joins National Education Association (NEA) members from North Carolina, 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 to 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 can choose 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 to this funding crisis.”

Lisa Koester was told earlier this year that after 31 years, her contract would not be renewed. She shared her story today with Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and told him about thousands like hers who are losing their jobs in Indiana. Koester, who holds two master’s degrees, will lose her income and her health insurance at the end of the summer.

“One third of the special education teachers in my district were cut,” said Koester. “Unless Congress acts, our special needs students will get a minimum of services instead of an optimum.

“These children will still be expected to pass the high-stakes tests like ISTEP and ISTEP plus, but now they will be expected to do so with less support."

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, or even closing schools. These layoffs and cuts are coming at the same time that schools are facing rising demands for better academic outcomes.

“We are closing in quickly on the end of the fiscal year, and it’s incomprehensible that our children are being forced 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.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee 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: Samantha Kappalman (202) 316-3980,