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NEA praises Senate for putting students before politics

Legislation includes emergency funding for public schools this fall

WASHINGTON - August 05, 2010 -

The U.S. Senate today approved legislation (61-39) containing much-needed funds to help states cope with the Great Recession and to fund an extension of the increased federal match for Medicaid (FMAP). An amendment offered by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.),  and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to H.R. 1586, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, would create an Education Jobs Fund to stave off massive layoffs of educators and harmful cuts to education programs. According to a National Education Association analysis, the fund will preserve the jobs of approximately 138,000 educators. Both the education jobs funding and the FMAP extension are fully paid for. The Congressional Budget Office confirmed yesterday that H.R. 1586 will actually reduce the budget deficit by $1.4 billion over the next decade. The measure now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The action by the Senate comes at a critical time. School budgets across the country have already been cut to the bone, forcing massive layoffs of teachers and education support professionals. Some districts are moving to four-day school weeks, gutting critical services and programs for students, or even closing schools entirely. Other districts are projecting class sizes to double as a direct result of the layoffs.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“We applaud the Senate for voting to address students’ needs. We commend Sen. Harry Reid for bringing this legislation to the floor of the Senate, and we are especially grateful to Sens. Patty Murray, Charles Schumer, and Tom Harkin for offering the Education Jobs Fund amendment.

“Today, with the passage of this important legislation, we are now a step closer to making sure that children do not bear the brunt of our nation’s economic woes. The education jobs fund will keep tens of thousands of educators in schools and classrooms and off of unemployment lines. Most importantly, however, the much-needed funds will keep class sizes from ballooning and prevent even more harmful cuts to education programs for students.

“We thank Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for putting our students’ needs before partisan politics.

“We also applaud the action of the Senate to extend federal support for FMAP.  This important funding will help prevent additional funding cuts in the states and maximize money going to education.

“We urge the House of Representatives to act swiftly to pass FMAP and the education funding bill. We need to keep schools open, educators working and students learning.”

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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.

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