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Federal Legislative Update October 2011

October 28, 2011
October 21, 2011
October 14, 2011
October 7, 2011

10/28/11

WILL THE SUPER COMMITTEE CUT YOUR RETIREMENT AND CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE?


The clock is ticking. The “Super Committee” created under the August deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling continues to meet to hammer out a proposal for deficit reduction.  See the members and learn more about the Super Committee.  We are very concerned by this week’s press reports indicating that cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare are being put on the table by BOTH Democrats and Republicans.  We must send a very firm message NOW to the Super Committee that it is unconscionable to balance the nation’s deficit on the backs of retirees, middle class families, and children at a time when Wall Street continues to profit and Main Street struggles!

One out of every five children in America lives in poverty.  A third of all American children rely solely upon Medicaid for healthcare services.  The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retiree is only $1,183.  These Americans cannot afford to have Washington jeopardize their health or their retirement, while Wall Street tycoons and billionaires continue to enjoy tax breaks.

This week, the Super Committee held a hearing on discretionary funding. Read NEA’s statement submitted to the committee and our letter sent to the full Congress. NEA is urging the Super Committee to:

  • Focus on creating jobs
  • Invest in school modernization
  • Oppose additional cuts to education and other critical programs
  • Protect those most in need and those who rely on core safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • Ensure a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenues, by making sure those most able to do so pay their fair share.

Take Action Today:

  • E-mail Congress and tell them that the Super Committee must help create jobs, protect those with the greatest needs, and ensure that those most able to do so pay their fair share.
  • Call your Members of Congress as part of the Social Security Works Coalition ongoing call-in event and urge them to oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Dial 1-800-998-0180 to hear the latest update and connect to your Members of Congress.

WHY WE CAN’T WAIT: EDUCATORS DESCRIBE APPALLING CONDITIONS IN OUR SCHOOLS


Maryland --
I started my first year of work in a school that was falling apart. I did not have a classroom. Instead, I pushed a cart of materials from one small, overcrowded classroom to another. The building didn’t (and still does not) have air conditioning. During the hot summer months (which can extend into October and often start in April), students were expected to perform in classes and on high school assessment tests in temperatures in excess of 90 degrees.

Minnesota -- 35 students in AP chemistry last year, in college-level labs in rooms built for 24. Even the universities keep their lab sections closer to 20. Unsafe!

New Jersey -- I work in a more than 100-year-old school that is falling apart. We fix one thing and something else breaks or falls!

Tennessee -- I am a special education teacher, a bus duty attendant, our school’s parent involvement coordinator, an after-school tutor, and much more. I work in an old school that needs many repairs—stained ceilings, wooden floors, a beautiful OLD school. Our students are mostly free and reduced-price lunch, and many are on the backpack snack program for weekend foods. Our classrooms are small and overcrowded. Children are cramped for space and teachers lack materials, but there is no place to store them. Oh, the places we could go if we had a new or modern facility! We have no science lab, a small computer lab that is housed in our library, and no librarian, just a teacher who comes back on the weekend to try to keep the library neat and the books shelved. Give someone a job: Let them fix our school, our teachers, and our students.

Read more stories and submit your own.

We can’t afford to wait any longer. Across the nation, far too many students are learning in schools with leaky roofs and peeling paint in overcrowded classrooms with out-of-date or no technology. Senator Brown (D-OH) and Representative DeLauro (D-CT) have introduced the Fix America’s Schools Today Act (S. 1597/H.R.2498), which would provide needed funds to ensure students the learning environments so essential to their success. And, the bill will also help create good jobs to put Americans back to work, as construction and building repair generally create 9,000-10,000 jobs per billion dollars spent.

Take Action Today:

  • Tell your Members of Congress to put Americans back to work and ensure our children the education they deserve by supporting school modernization.
  • Share your story -- Keep the stories coming. We are using your stories to help put pressure on Members of Congress to do the right thing and focus on creating a great public school for every student.  

PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES RELIEF FOR STUDENT LOAN DEBT!


This week, President Obama announced new executive actions to make it easier for Americans to manage student loan debt, including a proposal to let upcoming graduates cap their monthly federal loan payments at 10 percent of their income, with any remaining debt balance forgiven after 20 years.  This improved “Pay as You Earn” plan will help an estimated 1.6 million borrowers who could benefit from reduced student loan payments.

In the 2010 State of the Union, the President proposed — and Congress quickly enacted — an improved income-based repayment plan that allows student loan borrowers to cap monthly payments at 15% of discretionary income. Beginning July 1, 2014, the plan is scheduled to reduce the limit from 15% to 10% of discretionary income. The new “Pay As You Earn” plan will make sure these important benefits are available to some borrowers as soon as 2012.

Thank President Obama and share how his proposal will help you. 

ESEA REAUTHORIZATION: TELL CONGRESS WHAT WILL WORK FOR YOUR STUDENTS!


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has approved a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently knows as No Child Left Behind. The bill includes a number of hard-fought victories, including leaving teacher evaluation to the state and local level where it belongs, giving states additional flexibility to help turnaround struggling schools, and ensuring that districts won’t force teachers to transfer to different schools. But, much more work needs to be done, particularly to reduce the focus on standardized testing. The Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for November 8 and then the bill could move to the Senate floor for debate and vote.

In the House, the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee (John Kline) and the Speaker of the House (John Boehner) have indicated their desire to move ESEA reauthorization in pieces. The Committee has approved three pieces -- a bill to eliminate over 40 education programs, a bill reauthorizing the charter school program, and a bill to allow transfer of funds among programs. The full House has passed the charter school bill. NEA opposed the program elimination and fund transferability bills and remained neutral on the charter schools legislation.

The House Committee continues to work on two additional bills addressing teachers and leaders and accountability. These bills will comprise the bulk of a House reauthorization proposal and will address issues of great concern to educators. We expect action on them before the end of the year.

As ESEA reauthorization continues to move forward, we cannot let up! We must make sure policy makers hear and understand the experiences of educators working with students every day. Make your voice heard! Speak up for the students who are suffering under too much testing and not enough individual attention. Speak up for the schools that are doing their best every day to meet the needs of students who come to school hungry, who have no books at home, and who have no safe place to study after school. Don’t let Congress ignore us!

Take Action Today: Tell Congress to craft an ESEA reauthorization bill that will work for students, educators, and schools.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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Representative Janice Hahn (D-CA), who gave a speech on the House floor this week in which she said,I'm concerned that education, the most powerful tool we have to build our economy, is being ignored..Nearly 300,000 teachers have already lost their jobs since 2008. Another 280,000 more may be out of the classroom if we don't do something now. Now is not the time to be laying off teachers. It's not the time to surrender the leadership in math and science to foreign countries...Americans can't wait. We should put people to work rebuilding our crumbling schools. We should be working to transform the prestige of teachers in our culture. Teaching requires high skill and should be rewarded with high pay and be the preferred profession of the best and the brightest.”

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Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who during the Super Committee hearing this week gave a strong defense of non-defense discretionary spending and argued against further cuts in this area. She also tweeted, "It doesn’t make sense to simply keep slashing one small part of the budget that disproportionally affects middle class families."

Jeers to:

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Texas Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry (R), who this week unveiled a flat tax plan today that also takes direct aim at federal education spending. Perry wants to cut $100 billion in federal non-defense spending, and one-quarter of that would come from the U.S. Department of Education.

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R), who this week stated his unequivocal support for Ohio Governor Kasich’s anti-worker law, SB 5. A proposal on the statewide ballot November 8 would overturn SB 5. Governor Kasich rammed SB through the state legislature last March in order to strip middle class citizens of a voice in their workplace —whether it’s to negotiate class sizes, firefighter, or police safety equipment, or nurse staffing levels. Learn more.

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Republican presidential candidates who spoke at an education forum this week, including:

Michelle Bachmann, who called for elimination of the U.S. Department of Education and also called President Obama’s plan to ease student loan debt an "abuse of power" that will give people incentive to dodge debt

Newt Gingrich, who blasted teachers unions, called for merit pay, and said that the U.S. Department of Education should only be in charge of research


Rick Santorum, who called for repealing most federal education laws other than special education and giving states block grants

Herman Cain, who said that the federal government should not be involved in helping students pay for college through grants or loans

10/21/11

HOW COULD THEY?!?  SENATE GOP LEADERSHIP SAYS NO TO EDUCATORS, FIRST REPONDERS, AND STUDENTS!TELL CONGRESS TO SUPPORT FUNDING TO MODERNIZE SCHOOLS AND CREATE JOBS


On October 20, the Senate failed to reach the required votes necessary to move an education jobs package forward.  The 50-50 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward.  See how your Senator voted.

The focus now shifts to pushing other critical pieces of the President’s American Jobs Act — including urgently needed funding to repair and modernize schools.  Senator Brown (D-OH) and Representative DeLauro (D-CT) have introduced the Fix America’s Schools Today Act (S. 1597/H.R.2498), which would provide needed funds to ensure students the learning environments so essential to their success.  And, the bill will also help create good jobs to put Americans back to work, as construction and building repair generally create 9,000-10,000 jobs per billion dollars spent.

The need for school modernization funding is evident across the nation:

Arizona -- I am a high school teacher.  Like most of my colleagues, I am teaching 40 students in classrooms not designed for that many students.  Our school is bursting at the seams.  If one more freshman enrolls for this year, they will have to take English online because there is no more classroom space.

California -- Our school is mostly portable buildings, and they are 21 years old.  The buildings creak with each of our footsteps, and the louvers over the windows won’t stay open.  Therefore, the room is always dark and windowless.  Additionally, when I use the heater the classroom gets steamy, because the portable is not weatherproofed.  Our materials are very old.  This may be the last year that we can get consumable books, because our district can’t afford to adopt any new editions of textbooks.  Currently, our district has to scrounge books from many sources, and mostly buys books that are leftovers from other districts.

Colorado --Year after year we come to work in 90+ temps with packed classrooms and no air conditioning..I have classes of 36 and 37 teenagers packed into desks that are falling apart, using textbooks older than they are.  Every day, students ask for food, paper, pencils, fundraiser purchases, even clothes, let alone the graphing calculators we want them to have to keep up with technological advances in education.  Our carpet is threadbare, stained, and approaching 40 years old, but can’t be replaced because there is an asbestos issue we can’t afford to address.

Read more stories and submit your own.

Take Action Today: 

  • Tell your Members of Congress to put Americans back to work and ensure our children the education they deserve by supporting school modernization.   
  • Share your story -- Keep the stories coming.  We are using your stories to help put pressure on Members of Congress to do the right thing and focus on creating a great public school for every student.

REPLACING NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: NEA ACTIVISTS PRODUCE WINS, MORE WORK REMAINS


After a 13-hour mark-up, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed by a vote of 15-7 a bill to amend and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

Before the mark-up began, we had a major victory achieved through your help and activism.  Specifically, the original draft bill was amended to leave design and implementation of teacher evaluation to states and districts instead of mandating it at the federal level.  With your help, NEA had argued that, in a country as large and diverse as the United States, one size does not fit all, and, what works in a rural school district may be vastly different than what is effective in a large urban area.  Read NEA’s press release on the bill before the mark-up and our letter to the Committee sent prior to the mark-up.

With your help, NEA won several major victories in the mark-up:

  • Passage of an amendment by Senator Alexander (R-TN) to give additional flexibility to states and school districts to help turn around struggling schools.  This was a very hard-fought victory.  Passage of the amendment was due, in no small part, to your continued advocacy in arguing for more flexibility and relief from limited, federally-mandated turnaround models. 
  • Passage of an amendment by Senator Franken (D-MN) to ensure that school districts will not force teachers to transfer to other schools to meet requirements of “comparability” among schools.
  • Passage of an amendment by Senator Bingaman (D-NM) to help schools that serve disadvantaged and low-income students purchase computers, software and other technology and train teachers in the use of technology.

More work needs to be done to ensure the final bill works for students and educators — particularly to reduce the continued emphasis on testing.  The Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 8, and then the bill could move to the Senate floor.  So, there is still time to weigh in. 

Contact your Senators TodayTell the Senate to pass an ESEA reauthorization bill that will work for real students in your schools and classrooms.

WE HAVE ALMOST REACHED OUR GOAL: SIGN PETITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO REPEAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSETS


A petition to urge the Administration to support repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is now available on the White House website.  We only need several hundred more signatures to reach the goal of 5,000 signatures by October 26! 

The GPO and WEP unfairly cut or eliminate many public employees’ earned Social Security benefits.  The petition needs a lot of signatures in order to get the attention of the President.  Sign todayLearn more about the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.  To sign the petition:

  1. Go to http://wh.gov/4KL
  2. Click on “Create an Account” on the blue bar at the bottom of the page.  Fill in the information and click “Register.”
  3. Check your email for a letter with the links back to the site.  It may take several minutes to arrive.  Click the link and sign the petition.
  4. Trouble shooting:
  • The site is often swamped.  If you can’t get the “register” screen, bookmark http://wh.gov/4KL and try later.
  • If the link they send you doesn’t seem to work, go to wh.gov/4KL again and try to sign the petition, anyway.
  • If you think you may have signed in and nothing has happened yet, refresh the wh.gov/4KL page and try to sign the petition.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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Senators who offered important amendments and made pro-public education statements in the Senate HELP Committee’s ESEA mark-up, including:

Senators Harkin (D-IA), Enzi (R-WY), and Alexander (R-TN), for recognizing that the federal government should not mandate from Washington, DC the terms and provisions of teacher evaluation systems.  A proposal to mandate teacher evaluations based in significant part on standardized tests was dropped from the Senate Committee’s ESEA reauthorization legislation.

Senator Alexander (R-TN), for offering a very important amendment to give states and school districts more flexibility in developing models to help turnaround struggling schools.  The amendment passed in committee.  

Senator Franken (D-MN), for offering several key amendments, including one to prevent forced transfer of teachers.  The amendment passed in committee.  

Senator Sanders (I-VT), for offering two very critical amendments to address provisions around “highly qualified teachers” — one requiring a teacher to complete a state-approved teacher program and full-state certification to be “highly qualified” and the other saying that teachers who are not “highly qualified” can still teach, but needs mentoring and support.  The amendments failed in committee. 

Senator Murkowski (R-AK), for offering several important amendments, including one to address dropout prevention and one to address the “highly qualified” teacher definition for specialized teachers in tribal areas.   Senator Murkowski withdrew her dropout amendment after speaking on the record about its importance.  The other amendment passed in committee.  

Senator Isakson (R-GA), for offering an amendment saying that testing of students with disabilities should be done with appropriate assessments as determined by the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team.  The amendment failed in committee. 

Senator Bingaman (D-NM), for offering an amendment to help schools that serve disadvantaged and low-income students purchase computers, software and other technology and train teachers in the use of technology.  The amendment passed in committee. 

Jeers to:

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Senators Pryor (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-FL) and Lieberman (I-CT), who joined with all Republicans to vote against the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act, which would have saved hundreds of thousands of educator, police, and firefighter jobs. 

10/14/11

ESEA REAUTHORIZATION BILL MOVING: TELL THE SENATE TO SLOW DOWN, THINK IT THROUGH, GET IT RIGHT FOR OUR STUDENTS


The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has released draft legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind.  The stakes are very high for students, educators, and schools.  We are very concerned about what we see.  The draft committee bill:

  • Still relies heavily on outcomes of test scores instead of supporting true multiple measures of school performance
  • Prescribes top-down models of school turnaround that are not based on research, don’t work, and ignore promising locally developed ideas.
  • Takes away teachers’ rights to have a real voice in their own evaluation systems.

We know this is the wrong policy for students and educators.  But there is still time to improve this bill!

The Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the bill as early as Wednesday, October 19.  It is urgent that educators weigh in now!  Remind Congress that you know what works in classrooms and for students.  Remind them that you know the current flaws of NCLB better than anyone because you’ve been in the classrooms and schools carrying out mandates that don’t work.

Take Action Today:

  • Contact your Senators and tell them to slow down, think ESEA reauthorization through, and do it right for our students!

VOTE TO SAVE EDUCATION JOBS POSSIBLE!  TELL CONGRESS TO PUT AMERICANS BACK TO WORK AND KEEP STUDENTS LEARNING


This week, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to move the President’s American Jobs Act forward.  See how your Senator voted.  But there’s still hope!  A vote specifically to save education jobs and modernize thousands of schools is possible during the week of October 17th.  President Obama has said we shouldn’t take NO for an answer, so let’s make sure Senators know how much students and educators need—and expect—their help.

The need for this funding is evident in communities across the nation:

CaliforniaOur campus was built in 1960, and has had little renovation or improvements since the first graduating class, aside from several portables that have been added in the parking lot. The portables do have air conditioning, and that’s a big improvement, because my classroom often heats up well above 90 degrees on warm fall and spring afternoons. I recall several years ago there was a slow leak in the roof of the art department chairperson’s classroom. Lacking the funds to fix the problem, the maintenance workers hung a large coffee can with some wire under it to catch the drips.

MissouriOne of the buildings in our district dates back to the Civil War. Several were built about a hundred years ago and our high schools date from the 1930s and 40s with some newer additions. None of our buildings are very “green.” Some lighting changes have been made and most recycle, but little else. In the older part of one high school, I saw a class that was so crowded with desks that you could not easily walk through it. Only one building and parts of a few others are air conditioned.

Montana — I am a preschool special education teacher and coordinator for my district. We have three buildings in our community, with the newest building, the high school, built in the late 1960s. Our other two buildings are from the late 1940s and early 1950s. The preschool is in a modular unit near the main building, and has no bathroom or sink. We have drinking water delivered, but we have to walk outside to the main building to use the restrooms. The walls have cracks, the doors leak, and the windows need to be replaced for more efficient energy use—we have a steam heating system that is very hard to regulate.

Read more stories and submit your own.

Take Action Today:

  • Tell your Members of Congress to put Americans back to work and ensure our children the education they deserve by supporting school modernization.  
  • Share your story -- Keep the stories coming. We are using your stories to help put pressure on Members of Congress to do the right thing and focus on creating a great public school for every student.

SIGN PETITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO REPEAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSETS


A petition to urge the Administration to support repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is now available on the White House website. The GPO and WEP unfairly cut or eliminate many public employees’ earned Social Security benefits. The petition needs a lot of signatures in order to get the attention of the President.  Sign today Learn more about the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. To sign the petition:

  1. Go to http://wh.gov/4KL
  2. Click on “Create an Account” on the blue bar at the bottom of the page. Fill in the information and click “Register.”
  3. Check your email for a letter with the links back to the site. It may take several minutes to arrive. Click the link and sign the petition.
  4. Trouble shooting:
  • The site is often swamped. If you can’t get the “register” screen, bookmark http://wh.gov/4KL and try later.
  • If the link they send you doesn’t seem to work, go to wh.gov/4KL again and try to sign the petition, anyway.
  • If you think you may have signed in and nothing has happened yet, refresh the wh.gov/4KL page and try to sign the petition.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a ruling that temporarily blocks parts of an Alabama law requiring schools to check the immigration status of students. Since the law went into effect, scores of Hispanic children in Alabama have stopped going to school out of fear that they or their parents will be apprehended.

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Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, who wrote a letter to the “Super Committee” warning against failure to reach an agreement because such failure would cause automatic cuts to education — harming students and costing jobs.

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Representative George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, who wrote a letter, the “Super Committee” urging a focus on job creation, including elements from the President’s American Jobs Act.

10/711

SENATE VOTE SCHEDULED ON AMERICAN JOBS ACT: URGE SENATORS TO PUT AMERICANS BACK TO WORK AND KEEP STUDENTS LEARNING


The Senate has scheduled a “cloture” vote on the President’s American Jobs Act for Tuesday, October 11. Cloture requires 60 Senators to vote yes in order to move the bill forward. If there are enough votes, the bill will move to final debate and a vote on passage.

The American Jobs Act includes $30 billion to save jobs and keep students learning— and a large investment in the nation’s infrastructure, including $30 billion to help modernize America’s school buildings and community colleges. The bill is estimated to save 280,000 educator jobs. The need is urgent, as evidenced by the stories that continue to pour in from across the nation:

Massachusetts -- We teach our students to stay healthy by washing their hands after using the restroom. That is a difficult thing to do in a sink where the water just dribbles out. We teach our students to stay focused and listen. That is a difficult thing to do in a room with 26 ancient desks and chairs that squeak and have legs that frequently collapse. We teach our students that technology is changing and improving every day. That is hard for them to grasp while using refurbished desktops from eight years ago, in a building with a connection “speed” that frustrates even the most patient learner. We teach our students about our founding fathers and the plans they made for future Americans and America. It is hard to believe that today’s leaders are satisfied with the conditions our young people are now learning in.

Pennsylvania -- I teach in the district where my children attend school. My middle-school son went back to school with a computer program instead of a foreign language teacher for his World Languages class—a teacher certified in physical education monitors the class while the students sit at computers trying to learn Spanish. My son also doesn’t have a Food and Consumer Science class—the math teacher was furloughed and the Food and Consumer Science teacher has to cover math classes since she also has 7-9 math certification. My first-grade daughter no longer has computer class and limited library access—the librarian was furloughed and the middle school librarian has to “cover” the elementary library as well. The district has no nurse at all for the last 45 minutes of the elementary school day...We cut a high school English teacher, so our students have larger class sizes in a critical subject area. We also cut a music position, making it more difficult for students to participate at all ages. And we cut a gifted support teacher, simply stating that her position and students will be “absorbed” by other teachers. It saddens me to teach in these times after 22 years of experience.

Read more stories and submit your own.

Take Action Today:

  • Tell your Senators to put Americans back to work and ensure our children the education they deserve by voting yes on the President’s American Jobs Act.
  • Share your story -- Keep the stories coming. We know that budget cuts are happening in schools across the country, but we need your help to gauge the impact these cuts are having on your schools and students. Has your school moved to a four day school week, cut after-school programs, or dropped foreign languages? Is your school in need of maintenance or supplies? Let us know how budget woes are affecting your school. We are using your stories to help put pressure on Members of Congress to do the right thing and focus on creating a great public school for every student.
  • Spread the word on Twitter. Tweet your support for the American Jobs Act using our special hashtag #speakupforjobs.

ESEA REAUTHORIZATION MOVING IN THE SENATE: IT’S TIME TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!


Senator Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has issued a press release announcing that on October 18, his committee will begin “marking up” a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as “No Child Left Behind”). A mark-up is a committee meeting during which a draft piece of legislation is debated. Members of the committee make statements, consider and vote on amendments, and then refer the bill to the full Senate for debate and a final vote. Senator Harkin's proposal is expected to be made public early next week on the Senate HELP Committee's homepage.

Educators, parents, and policymakers on all sides of the political spectrum agree that the current system is deeply flawed — with far too much emphasis on rote testing and little being done to ensure that every student, no matter where he or she lives, has access to the quality education necessary for success in the 21st century. We welcome this opportunity to finally review--and hopefully overhaul--ESEA/NCLB. 

NEA’s positive agenda for ESEA reauthorization calls for:

  • promoting innovation, and encouraging development of 21st century skills;
  • developing high-quality assessment systems that provide multiple ways for students to show what they have learned;
  • helping provide great educators and school leaders for every student;
  • promoting public education as a shared responsibility of parents, communities, educators, and policymakers; and
  • ensuring adequate, equitable, and sustainable funding for all schools.

Now is the time to weigh in.  We must make sure that the Senate bill champions student success, promotes great educators and school leaders for every student, and ensures equitable opportunities and safe schools for all.  Make sure your Senators hear your voice!  You are the expert on what works for students in the classroom and in our schools and your ideas and innovations will help make the law better. 

Take Action Today: Contact your Senators and tell them to craft an ESEA bill that makes a real difference in the lives of students and educators and helps all students succeed. 

OHIO WORKERS FIGHTING FOR THEIR RIGHTS


On November 8, citizens of Ohio will head to the polls with an opportunity to overturn a law passed this year that would undermine workers’ rights and workplace safety across the state. Earlier this year, the Ohio Legislature passed and Governor John Kasich signed the controversial Senate Bill 5 (SB5), which would silence the voices of teachers, education support professionals, nurses, firefighters, police officers and other public employees in the workplace.

We Are Ohio, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals opposed to SB5 — including the Ohio Education Association — collected more than 1.2 million signatures to force a referendum on SB5. Now, the citizens of Ohio will decide if it becomes law. We Are Ohio has been spearheading efforts to inform Ohioans about the effects that SB5 — known as Issue 2 on the November ballot — will have on the critical work public employees perform every day.

For more information and to learn how you can get involved in the No on Issue 2 campaign, visit We Are Ohio.

WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY: FIGHT FOR UNIVERSAL EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN AROUND THE GLOBE


This week, over 100 nations celebrated World Teachers’ Day ( http://www.5oct.org/), acknowledging the many ways teachers make a difference in the lives of their students and their communities. Read NEA’s letter to Congress commemorating World Teachers’ Day.

Yet, across the globe far too many children lack access to basic education and quality teachers. Worldwide, 72 million children of primary school age are not in school, 60 percent of whom are girls. More than half these children live in fragile, conflict-affected states. Basic education is fundamental to development. Education reduces poverty and inequality, and provides a foundation for sound governance, civic participation, and strong societal institutions.

Representative Lowey (D-NY) has introduced the Education for All Act (H.R. 2705). The bill would support activities to train teachers, build schools, develop effective curricula, and enhance access to school lunch and health programs. The initial focus would be on the most disadvantaged: girls living in poor, remote areas; child laborers; children with disabilities; victims of sex trafficking; and children orphaned by or at risk of developing AIDS.

Take Action Today: Tell your Representative to support the Education for All Act.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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The White House, which published a story on their blog this week highlighting NEA member Stephanie Harris Walter, who has been laid off due to budget cuts in her district.

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Members of Congress who spoke at this week’s Committee for Education Funding Legislative Conference and Gala, including:

Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), who spoke movingly about the striking impact of an infusion of educational investment in south Texas in the 1990’s and made the case for continued investment today.
 
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who, as Super Committee co-chair, said that the committee’s work is about more than deficit reduction — it’s about long-term investments and competitiveness to create jobs, invest in infrastructure and research, and provide a quality public education for every student.  

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who in response to calls for the super committee to “go big” on deficit reduction, said his message is to “Go Big.on Jobs.” Senator Harkin said that the best way to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work.  

Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who said that our competitors are focused on educational excellence and investment, and we need to be too.

Jeers to:

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who this week announced that he will not allow the American Jobs Act to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives. Read NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s response to Cantor’s statement.

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The U. S. Federal District Court in Birmingham, Alabama, which upheld Alabama’s immigration law (HB56). Under the law, school staff must ask the parents of newly enrolling students for proof of citizenship for students. Parents are not required to provide such proof, but if they fail to do so, the student is presumed to be undocumented for reporting purposes. Since the ruling, scores of Hispanic children in Alabama have stopped going to school out of fear that they or their parents will be apprehended. Read NEA’s statement on the ruling.

thumbsdown Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who said this week in response to the Alabama immigration law that it is not sad that immigrant children in Alabama are too scared to go to school. Senator Sessions called the result of the immigration law a “sob story” and said that what is sad is that these children are here in the first place.