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NEA President: Obama’s budget keeps America moving forward

Students take back seat in House spending proposal

WASHINGTON - February 14, 2011 -

President Barack Obama today released his Fiscal-Year 2012 budget, making the tough choice to focus scarce financial resources on education. His budget comes on the heels of a proposal by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) to make draconian budget cuts in the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution Obama requested.

“Money is tight in every American household,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “In tough economic times, it’s reassuring that President Obama continues to make education a national priority by calling for important investments in quality public education to keep America moving forward. Reckless cuts, like those proposed by the House Appropriations Committee Chairman, would dash the dreams of countless American students and stall the engine that drives our economy. We urge House Republicans to rethink their approach and ensure that our students can ‘out-innovate, out-build and out-compete’ the world.”

Rogers is seeking deep budget cuts to the tune of $100 billion in the FY 11 Continuing Resolution that President Obama requested, effectively gutting special education grants to local school districts, Head Start for children and Pell Grants to disadvantaged college students, among other proven programs.

The proposed cuts would put additional strain on states’ budgets already cut to the bone. Wisconsin faces a two-year budget deficit of $3.6 billion. Ellsworth Community School District in Wisconsin is slashing 24 of its 150 school personnel positions to save $1.1 million. Educators and students already are feeling the economic pinch.

One of the educators not returning to school next year is Shelly Moore, a 13-year English and drama high school teacher at Ellsworth Community High School. Moore teaches grades 9-12. She also is the school’s only Advanced Placement instructor. Moore took her message to Congress last week, pleading with lawmakers to put students first and reminding them that investing in education is the right thing to do for students, communities and the nation.

“Policymakers need to make tough choices to restore fiscal discipline, but we hope they do not jeopardize our students’ education, which is tied to all of our futures,” said Van Roekel. “How many working families will see their children’s future vanish before their eyes if one wing of the House Republican caucus has its way?”

NEA is urging Congress to oppose any proposals that put the nation at great risk by decimating public education and other programs that ensure a competitive workforce and future economic vitality. “We know that there is a diversity of opinion within the House of Representatives about our national budget priorities,” said Van Roekel. “We encourage House leaders to allow for a full debate and hope that a majority of the House will support investments that support students and our country’s progress.”

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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: Miguel A. Gonzalez (202) 822-7823,