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NEA President: Don’t forget our children, the most vulnerable in debt deal

Negotiations on federal debt ceiling and deficit reduction stall in Washington

WASHINGTON - July 23, 2011 -

House Speaker John Boehner called off further talks on raising the debt ceiling and deficit reduction yesterday, writing to fellow Republicans that he and President Barack Obama “couldn’t connect…because of different visions for our country.” 

“To the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association and the students and families they serve, there are two very different visions playing out in this fiscal debate:  one that favors those with great wealth and one that harms those without," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  

“While there are many different ideas about how to put America's fiscal house in order,  no one disputes that our nation's children did nothing to cause our economic crisis,” said Van Roekel. “The facts are simple: one in three children in this country rely upon Medicaid as their sole source of healthcare.  It would be unconscionable for lawmakers to even contemplate punishing children with a budget deal that asks nothing of billionaires or corporations that paid no taxes last year.  The students we serve come to school every day more worried, more at risk, and more liable to fall through the cracks.  To rob children of their futures by putting their very health at would be reckless and immoral.”

As of 2010, 68 million people are covered by Medicaid, including one third of America’s children. Children who lack access to health care services are less likely to come to school healthy and ready to learn and to succeed academically.

"Our members want to remind negotiators that the measure of a country's greatness is in how it treats its children, it seniors, and its most vulnerable.  Any budget plan must leave life-preserving programs such as Medicare and Medicaid untouched,” said Van Roekel.

“It’s time to put the families on Main Street ahead of the special interests of Wall Street and make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share,” said Van Roekel. “Legislators need to stop looking to children, working families, and seniors to sacrifice without asking anything in return from the wealthiest, who continue to get wealthier due to continued tax loopholes and cuts.”

To read NEA’s letter to the Senate opposing the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, please go to

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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: Sara Robertson
(202) 822-7823,