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Education Cuts Hurt Everyone

There’s been a lot of talk lately about cutting education budgets to offset budget shortfalls. Public funds go to education, so it’s fair to cut those funds when state and local budgets are off track, the argument goes.

But there are obvious flaws to such simplistic takes on economic reform. Slashing school budgets means fewer educators, bigger classes, and a less diverse curriculum. A recent Teachers College survey found that, on the flip side, investing in education leads to higher individual incomes; higher property value rates; lower crime rates; and lower costs for public health and welfare services. “NEA’s 3.2 million members know the best comprehensive, pro-growth economic strategy, is to invest in our students,” says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

And as trusted members of your communities, NEA Retired members can play a big role in helping others see how cuts to public education negatively affect our economic viability, public safety, and even our national security.

Some points to consider:

  • First, government spending does not create recessions. Rather, it benefits the economy when funds are dedicated to areas of long-term benefit, including education. A dollar-for-dollar investment in education increases private income and jobs more than any sector of the economy. (NEA Research)
  • Proposed drastic cuts being decided on now will mean educator layoffs. Increasing unemployment is never good for the economy. And for students? A 10 percent increase in the student-teacher ratio leads to a 1-2 percent decrease in high school graduation rates and lower standardized test scores. (Teachers College)
  • Some argue that America spends more per pupil than most countries, so there’s room to cut back. But that’s not long-term thinking. As Linda Darling-Hammond told the Boston Globe, “the vast majority of jobs are knowledge-based. If we do not invest [in education] we really can’t survive as a nation.”

Find More Ed Funding Facts Online

At, you’ll find a fact sheet and other resources on the true cost of cuts to public education.

NEA Rocking the Vote Yesterday and Today


In late 1960s, a group of young activists, barely out of college, took up a challenge: lower the voting age by amending the United States Constitution.

But first? They had to figure out how to do it.

“We were kind of building the plane as it went down the runway,” says Mel Myler, then president of the NEA-Student program.

“We just knew where we wanted it to land,” says Les Francis, who teamed with Myler in 1969 for Project 18, NEA’s campaign for the 18-year-old vote.

Fast-forward 40 years: today, the NEA has partnered with Rock the Vote to honor Project 18’s efforts and advocate for youth voter engagement. Together, they’ve created Democracy Class, a curriculum that uses video and interactive activities to educate soon-to-be voters. As of its kickoff, Democracy Day, on March 23, almost 1,000 educators had signed up to use the lesson in their classrooms. The campaign will continue reaching out to young voters in the future, and a special ceremony at the NEA’s Representative Assembly will honor Project 18 participants.

For many Project 18 alums, who spent hours writing letters, lobbying their lawmakers and rallying their peers, their story stands as a reminder to today’s voters, young and old, that change is possible.

“Democracy really does work. You can raise causes from the grassroots level and work all the way through Congress,” says Roz Baker, who directed Project 18 after Francis and Myler kicked it off.

Fueled by the protests and anti-war energy of the era, Project 18 members worked tirelessly to give young Americans a voice, and their efforts paid off: the 26th Amendment was passed faster than any other, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 30, 1971.

For a group that wasn’t sure how to fly their plane, Project 18 activists made a pretty triumphant landing.

—Meredith Barnett

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