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Letter to the House Urging Support on the American Jobs Act

October 07, 2011

Dear Representative:


On behalf of the 3.2 million dedicated members of the National Education Association, we strongly urge your support for the President’s American Jobs Act (H.R. 12/S. 1660), introduced in Congress by Senator Reid (D-NV) and Representative Larson (D-CT).  The investments in education included in the President’s plan will jump start the economy, keep educators working, and most importantly, will keep students learning and developing the skills they need to succeed. 

The need for immediate action is evident in the stories being shared from across the nation: 

Minnesota -- I have seen my class size grow from 20 students to 34 students.  Class offerings have greatly decreased.  Tutoring programs have been eliminated.  This year all of the special education students are included in the classroom with no assistance.  They are left to fail with no help from an aid or special ed. teacher. 

California -- The economic crisis has affected students due to a lack of curriculum and materials.  We have not had new Language Arts textbooks in fourteen years.  The curriculum we use is poorly aligned with the standards.  We have no money to buy supplemental materials or for the photocopying and paper necessary for teacher-made lessons. 

Wisconsin -- It was the second day of school today.  My classroom was 103 degrees by the end of the day.  The district eliminated little refrigerators so the kids have no cold water to drink…There is no recess anymore.  I can't take them outside.  There is no art, music, gym, or library, and the computers in the lab are so slow you waste most of your time getting them to boot up….By January, the school will be out of tissues, paper towels, and soap.

Washington -- I have been in public education since 1974 and I have never before witnessed the cuts that have been made in the past few years.  Each year, it seems we lose more programs; provide support to fewer needy children; are confronted with materials, supplies and photocopying shortages; and, now, even salary cuts.  In the past 4 years, [our] 4th-6th grade Gifted program was cut in half, and then all librarians K-12 were eliminated….The only thing that will save education in our country is the many extremely bright and dedicated teachers in our schools.  The people I work with are trying their very best to stay upbeat, committed, and focused on providing a high quality education to the children in their classrooms.  This is becoming more and more difficult.

You can read more stories submitted by NEA members on NEA’s Education Votes website.  It is shameful to hear such stories in this country.  We are sending our children a message that they do not matter and are not a priority for the nation.  The American Jobs Act will help address this unacceptable situation by investing in saving and creating hundreds of thousands of educator jobs.  The bill will help ensure that our children won’t fall through the cracks, and instead will have the resources they need to succeed in the worldwide economy. 

Investing in public education is also an effective catalyst for economic growth.  It has a greater net positive impact on the economy than any other type of investment, including tax cuts.  When we invest in public education, lower and middle incomes grow even more than upper incomes, positively impacting businesses’ bottom line as lower-income people spend their new income on consumer goods and services.  In a typical state, investing two percent more in public education generates 3,900 new jobs and $92 million in new personal income.  An equal tax cut generates less than half those gains — 1,500 new jobs and $41 million in new personal income.

We also strongly support the President’s plan to invest $30 billion in school infrastructure.  Our children deserve manageable class-sizes and modernized and energy-efficient school buildings.  On average, our public schools are more than 40 years old and need hundreds of billions in repairs and upgrades.  Construction and building repair generally create 9,000-10,000 jobs per billion dollars spent.  Eliminating just half the backlog in needed repairs and improvements would, over a period of years, create more than two million much-needed jobs.  We are pleased that Representative DeLauro (D-CT) and Senator Brown (D-OH) have introduced these important components in the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act (H.R. 2948/S. 1597). 

Finally, we support provisions in the President’s American Jobs Act that would create subsidies and incentives to help the eight million Americans who are under water on their mortgages stay in their homes.  Not only does this provide important relief to educators and their families who are struggling to make ends meet, but schools districts will benefit from a strengthened community tax base—the more people who can keep their homes the better it is for local communities.  Many Americans do not realize that forty percent of all education funding is derived from local property taxes, which have taken an enormous hit.  Given the avarice associated with the mortgage industry over the last 10 to 15 years—in the form of predatory lending practices and unchecked Wall Street speculation in this sector—local communities and their school systems have borne the brunt of a housing crisis they didn’t create. 

We believe the President’s plan offers an important road map to economic recovery and a strong, competitive workforce for the 21st Century.  Millions of struggling Americans cannot afford to wait any longer.  We urge Congress to put come together in support of this critical bill.

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson        
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy