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Letter from Dennis Van Roekel to Senator Reid on Education Jobs

July 27, 2010

Dear Senator Reid:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), the students they serve, and the parents and communities across the nation who are deeply worried about the national education crisis, I strongly urge you to find a vehicle for moving an education jobs fund before the Senate adjourns for the August recess.

As you know, the looming layoffs of hundreds of thousands of educators will have a deep and likely irreversible impact on our students’ education and the future strength of our nation.  We simply cannot ensure a competitive workforce if our children are going to school in overcrowded classrooms without the benefit of the programs, staff, and individual attention so essential for their success. 

The frustration and anger among educators, parents, and students is mounting and they are looking to the Senate to address this crisis.  This week, a parent from Pahrump, Nevada wrote to NEA:

“I am a FRUSTRATED parent of a child going into the 7th grade in the only middle school in our town.  Nye County had to lay off 71 employees — about 60 of them teachers — this summer in order to attempt to meet our budget shortfall.  Middle school classes will go from about 35 kids per class to 42.  Our accelerated classes are in danger of being removed.  The school is on the “needs improvement” list due to not making AYP.  Per the NCLB law, I should be able to enroll my daughter in a school that is making AYP.  But we only have ONE middle school here, so now what?  My daughter will be staying in a school that is in MORE danger of falling further behind due to so many kids in a class.  This has to stop!  I urge our legislators to pass this reform [education jobs fund] so we can try to hire back some of our teachers.  Our children are doomed to an adulthood of being inadequately educated if this continues.  We are setting them up to fail in college, in the workplace and in LIFE!  Enough is enough!!!!”

As students go back to school, their teachers will be heading to the unemployment office.  Unless Congress acts now, the numbers released in the fall will reflect hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed educators.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, every 100,000 education jobs lost causes a loss of an additional 30,000 private sector jobs in local communities.  

I hope you will do everything you possibly can to pass an education jobs package before the August recess.  Thank you for your help.


Dennis Van Roekel