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Federal Legislative Update February 2011

February 25, 2011
February 18, 2011
February 11, 2011
February 4, 2011

 

News from Capitol Hill. . .

2/25/11

Workers Are Under Attack: Stand With Educators Fighting For Their Rights!


Wisconsin Governor Walker continues to push his anti-worker agenda as he refuses to negotiate. Educators in Wisconsin have repeatedly stated that this fight is not about pay and benefits – it is about the right to be heard.

This week, Governor Walker showed his true colors – an ideological agenda to silence workers. In a taped conversation with someone posing as his supporter, billionaire David Koch, the Governor bragged about using layoff threats to bully and intimidate working families into submission.

While the nation seems to have its eyes and ears on Wisconsin, attacks are happening all across the country. Teachers, school support staff, nurses, firefighters, and middle class workers and families are under relentless attack in state after state by an unprecedented, well-funded, and coordinated national campaign. But, as the fight continues, workers and their supporters are standing up and demanding to be heard. Rallies with unprecedented turnout have been held in states across the nation. Read about rallies around the nation.

The labor movement in this country has been responsible for safety standards, the minimum wage, fair employment practices, and more. For educators, our collective bargaining rights allow us to raise concerns about class size, school safety, and other important teaching and learning conditions. To express your support for workers’ rights across the country, please sign our national petition and follow the latest news about the attacks on our rights.

Tell The Senate To Stand Strong Against House-Passed Education Cuts


The House of Representatives has passed a “continuing resolution” (CR) for the rest of the current fiscal year (FY 2011). The draconian education cuts contained in the House CR would dash the dreams of countless American students, put additional strain on state budgets already cut to the bone, and stall the engine that drives our economy. Thousands of students would lose Title I services and Head Start slots; local tax burdens would increase as education costs are shifted to state and local levels; millions of students would lose Pell Grant assistance; and thousands of education jobs would be lost. See how much your state would lose. See how your representative voted.

But, the fight is not over! Congress returns on February 28 with a looming deadline, as the current CR is set to expire on March 4. The House will have to negotiate with the Senate and the President in order to craft a CR that can be enacted into law. Your voice is critical as negotiations continue – particularly to tell the Senate to stand firm against the cuts.

Take Action TODAY: Tell the Senate to reject the House-passed education funding cuts and to invest in education for our nation’s future.

Cheers And Jeers


thumbsupCheers to: The American public, who, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll strongly oppose laws to take away collective bargaining and silence workers’ voices and rights.

thumbsdownJeers to: The 235 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted against the interests of children, educators, and our nation when they passed the full-year continuing resolution (CR) for the rest of this fiscal year. The CR contains draconian cuts to programs like Title I, IDEA, Pell Grants, and Head Start that will crush the dreams of millions of students and take our nation backward.

 

News from Capitol Hill. . .

2/18/11

Workers Are Under Attack: Stand With Educators Fighting For Their Rights!


Workers across the nation are under attack as governors and state legislatures seek to decimate collective bargaining rights and slash pensions and health care benefits. Wisconsin Governor Walker wants to silence educator voices. He has refused to negotiate with educators, who have repeatedly, publicly stated their willingness to sacrifice for the good of the state and the future of their students. For educators, this fight is not about pay and benefits – it is about the right to be heard.

At the statehouse and online, public school supporters are sending a message that cannot be ignored. As tens of thousands march in solidarity in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Idaho, countless others prepare to fight in other states.

Read the latest news and learn how you can add your support for educators and other workers across the nation.

Tell Congress Education Cuts Hurt Students And The Country!


Cyberlobbyists – thank you for your incredible response to our calls to action. Together, you have sent over 40,000 e-mails to Members of Congress in the past few weeks urging investment in education.

The good news: This week, President Obama released his budget proposal for the next fiscal year (FY 2012).  K-12 education receives one of the only significant funding increases in the President’s budget. Read NEA’s response to the President’s Budget Proposal. 

The bad news: The House of Representatives is expected to pass shortly a “continuing resolution” (CR) for the rest of the current fiscal year (FY 2011).  The draconian education cuts contained in the House CR would dash the dreams of countless American students, put additional strain on state budgets already cut to the bone, and stall the engine that drives our economy. Thousands of students would lose Title I services and Head Start slots; local tax burdens would increase as education costs are shifted to state and local levels; millions of students would lose Pell Grant assistance; and thousands of education jobs would be lost. See how much your state would lose.

But, the fight is not over! The Senate and the President will not support the House-passed CR. In fact, the President has already issued a veto threat should the bill come to his desk for signature. The House will have to negotiate with the Senate and the President in the coming weeks in order to craft a CR that can be enacted into law. Your voice is critical as negotiations continue – particularly to tell the Senate to stand firm against the cuts. Congress will be back at home next week for the congressional recess. Make sure they hear your voice.

Take Action TODAYTell Congress to reject education funding cuts and to invest in education for our nation’s future.  

Cheers And Jeers

Cheers to:

thumbsupRepresentatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ron Kind (D-WI) for standing up for Wisconsin workers. All three issued strong public statements of support for public employees fighting the governor’s outrageous attacks and have been active in helping support and organize workers’ efforts.

  • Representative Baldwin: “In Wisconsin, Governor Walker and Republicans in the legislature have launched an economic assault on those who teach our children, care for the sick and elderly, and maintain our roads.  They seek not only to impose financial hardship, but also to silence these workers and to deny them the opportunity to negotiate fair contracts..My team is working hard to help organize efforts to fight these unprecedented attacks on working families. I am proud to stand with those speaking out in support of Wisconsin workers.”

  • Representative Moore: “The Governor is cavalierly trying to eliminate rights that Wisconsin workers have historically fought and died for.  Public workers are not the enemy.  They are skilled and trained workers.  They are taxpayers, volunteers, neighbors, and friends.  They should be invited to the table and treated with respect – just like they have been historically by Republican and Democratic governors alike. Just like we do in Washington, leaders in Wisconsin need to make some tough budget decisions.  But eliminating the rights of our public workers is an attack on Wisconsin’s middle class.  It’s an attack on our state’s rich history.  And it’s a crushing blow to our working families who are struggling to climb out of this recession.”

  • Representative Kind: Collective bargaining -- the chance for employees to negotiate for fair wages with management – is key to our state’s success. It is a time-tested, reasonable process.  And let’s be clear, public employees are not the reason state budgets are in trouble. We need to address the budget, but we can’t just fix it by cutting the salaries and robbing the retirement funds of our nurses, teachers, and public safety professionals.”


thumbsup Representative George Miller (D-CA) who spoke out strongly against proposed House cuts to programs that serve our most vulnerable populations. Representative Miller said on the House floor, “You want to do something tough? Take away tax breaks from the hedge fund managers that don’t’ deserve it.Make the oil companies pay the royalties that the taxpayers of this country are owed. That’s tough. You know why? Because they can fight back. Head Start parents don’t get to fight back very much....Poor children don’t get to fight back very much."

thumbsup Representatives Hirono (D-HI), Bishop (D-GA), and Andrews (D-NJ) for standing up with educators at a press conference this week highlighting the devastating impacts that proposed education cuts will have on educators and the students they serve.

Jeers to:

thumbsdownGovernors Walker (R-WI) and Kasich (R-OH), lawmakers in Indiana, and Idaho School State Superintendent Luna. They have attacked public education and workers and put forward ill-conceived proposals that will take education and our nation backward and stall economic recovery. These lawmakers want to take away educators’ voices so you won’t be able to speak up about school safety, class size, school conditions, the need for more counselors and nurses to serve students, and all the other areas where you have a right to be heard.

News from Capitol Hill. . .

2/11/11

Keep Up The Drumbeat: Education Cuts Hurt Students And The Country!


Cyberlobbyists – you have been doing an amazing job reminding Congress about the importance of investing in education. You have sent thousands of e-mails to Members of Congress in the past few weeks, but we still need your help.

The week of February 14 will be critical. President Obama will release his budget proposal for the next fiscal year (FY 2012). At the same time, the House of Representatives will consider funding levels for the current fiscal year (FY 2011). This is necessary as the last Congress never completed action on a funding bill for this fiscal year and the current “continuing resolution” – which temporarily continued program funding – is set to expire on March 4.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has already proposed deep cuts, including to education programs. And, some conservative Members are pushing for even deeper cuts. Now is the time to make your voice heard!

Take Action TODAY: Tell Congress to reject education funding cuts and to invest in education for our nation’s future.

Message For Policymakers: Listen To The Experts – Educators – On ESEA Reauthorization


Congress is expected to take up reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. Tell Congress to end the obsession with high-stakes, poor-quality tests and insist upon rich, 21st Century skills and better assessments. Tell them that the federal government should be a partner to states, not a micro-manager. And, tell them that students need reliable support from educators, parents, communities, and their policy makers. Struggling students and schools that need help shouldn’t be forced to compete for it—help should be a guarantee.


Take Action Today:
Tell Congress that every child deserves a great public school, and that legislators need listen to educators if they want to learn how to make that happen.

Cheers And Jeers


Cheers to:


Senators Enzi (R-WY) and Alexander (R-TN). The Ranking Members of the Committee and Subcommittee with jurisdiction over ESEA reauthorization released this week a list of key areas of focus for ESEA reauthorization, including revamping prescriptive “Adequate Yearly Progress” requirements, reviewing use of assessments and the addressing the focus on testing, examining how sanctions impact rural schools, revisiting ‘highly qualified” teacher requirements, and involving parents in childhood education.


Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), who forcefully challenged unsubstantiated assertions about the success of the District of Columbia voucher program at a House Education Committee hearing on Thursday.


Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who spoke at a Thursday committee hearing in support of comprehensive services, such as nutrition and health programs, as critical to ensuring students are ready to learn.

Jeers to:


Andrew Coulson, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, who testified at the House hearing that no federal education programs other than the District of Columbia voucher program have been shown effective in increasing student achievement. Coulson also testified that supports such as nutrition and health programs are not important to student success and, as evidence of his contention, related an anecdote about a charter school where a student without lunch was advised to wash dishes at a restaurant in exchange for food!

2/4/11

News from Capitol Hill. . .

Tell Congress: Education Cuts Are Bad For Students, Communities, And Our Nation


This week, the House Appropriations Committee announced the funding allocations for its subcommittees. Subcommittees will use these allocations to draft funding bills for the rest of this fiscal year (FY 2011). The Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee – which has jurisdiction over education programs, health programs, and many programs serving vulnerable children and families – will receive $6.5 billion less than last year. As bad as that cut would be, the actual loss could as much as double, since the allocation level does not address a deep shortfall in Pell Grant funding.

These cuts will be devastating to education programs like Title I, IDEA, and Pell Grants; will leave millions of students without the services and resources they need to succeed; and will place additional financial burdens on states and local school districts.

The House will vote on these cuts, and possibly even deeper cuts, the week of February 14. Members of Congress need to hear from you now about how devastating these cuts would be to the students in your school and for millions of students across the country. You are the experts and you know what your students need to succeed. Make sure your voice is heard.

Remind Congress that Investing in education is an investment in our nation’s future. Tell them that students get only one shot at an education and it is not their fault they are in school during a devastating economic crisis.

Take Action TODAY: Tell Congress to reject education funding cuts and to invest in education for our nation’s future.

Message For Policymakers: Listen To The Experts – Educators – On ESEA Reauthorization


Congress is expected to take up reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. In fact, Senate Education Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) has indicated that he would like to move a bill through the Senate by this summer. With so many new Members serving in the 112th Congress, it is essential that the experts – educators working every day in public schools across the nation – are front and center in the debate. Members of Congress need to be educated about the flaws in the No Child Left Behind Act and what is really needed to ensure great public schools for every student.

Take Action Today: Tell Congress that every child deserves a great public school, and that legislators need listen to educators if they want to learn how to make that happen.

Cheers And Jeers


Cheers to:

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who introduced this week the No Child Left Behind Flexibility and Improvements Act (S. 280). The bill would make common-sense changes to the No Child Left Behind Act to give states greater flexibility in measuring student progress, assessing students with special needs, and helping teachers of multiple subjects meet “highly qualified” teacher requirements.

Jeers to:

House Budget Committee “Czar” Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has announced a budget cap that would slash domestic funding immediately, including cutting billions of dollars for education and decimating services for millions of students.