Letter to Representative Joe Baca
September 20, 2011
Dear Representative Baca:
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association, we would like to express our support for the Community Partners Neighborhood Preservation Act. We thank you for your leadership in introducing legislation to enable educators and other public servants to purchase affordable homes in the communities in which they work.
As you know, since the economic crisis began our nation has seen foreclosure rates double and homeownership dip. Along with the housing crises, state budget pressures have forced educators and other public employees to take pay and benefits cuts. As a result, many public employees cannot afford to purchase homes.
The current economic crisis is particularly hard on educators. New teachers earn less than their peers in other professions requiring comparable education and responsibilities. Wages start low, and the gap keeps widening. The national average starting salary for a teacher is under $35,000. And, these same professionals are burdened with often insurmountable debt — the average teaching student graduates with over $18,000 in student loan debt. Education support professionals fare even worse — with the average ESP salary nationwide at just over $30,000, and classroom paraeducators averaging only $21,000.
Yet, despite these financial hardships, educators take money out of their own pockets every year to ensure their students have the resources they need to succeed. According to NEA’s most recent survey, 97 percent of teachers surveyed indicated that, in 2006, they had spent some of their own money to meet the needs of their students. These educators spent an average of $477 a year out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies such as books, pencils, paper, and art supplies. In addition, a large majority of teachers (roughly 61%) spend an average of $15 a month out of their own pockets to feed students — on average $25 per month.
Your legislation would help these dedicated educators, who would otherwise be unable to buy their own home. It would expand access to HUD owned properties for educators and other public employees, by making them eligible to buy any HUD owned property, including thousands of homes that HUD has acquired because of foreclosures. In so doing, the bill would help foster home ownership among public employees.
Your bill recognizes the value teachers bring to community life. Educators act as mentors to children and as resources to parents in the community. Enabling them to purchase homes in their communities will help foster greater educator involvement with students and their families.
Again, we thank you for your leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with you in support of public education.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy