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NEA applauds President Barack Obama for leading to get the nation’s fiscal house in order

Educators warn about dire consequences of Congressional inaction on the nation’s 50 million students


WASHINGTON - November 09, 2012 -

Only three days removed from the election and Washington already is poised for another political showdown. The clock is ticking for Congress to strike a deal to get the nation’s fiscal house in order ahead of the 2012 “lame duck” session of Congress and before the end of this year. The president called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and ask the rich to pay more in order to find a balanced approach to the nation’s fiscal woes.

The following is a statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

“Washington is going to make major decisions in the next few weeks and they should be clear on the direction the American people gave them in this week’s election. Instead of sticking everyday Americans and our nation’s students with the tab, the wealthiest 2 percent must pay their fair share. We cannot preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent by cutting funding for special education and low-income students. That is not the path forward that America decisively chose this week.

“We agree with President Obama: we have to get our priorities straight. As educators we know firsthand the impact of budget cuts on middle class families and we know some cuts never heal. We also agree with President Obama that we must find a balanced solution—one that won’t leave America’s students out in the cold, left to fend for themselves.

“Republican leadership apparently missed the message from America’s voters: Americans support candidates who look out for our children, our middle class families, and who are champions of fairness and balance. America can’t afford to continue to kick the can down the road as some Republican leaders are suggesting.

“Our elected officials—from both sides of the aisle—have an obligation to ensure that education funding doesn’t fall off a cliff. Unless Congress acts soon, America’s students will fall victim to massive budget cuts, which will dramatically cost America’s children and their families.

“The 3 million members of the NEA will be continuously vigilant in this process to call out any proposal that claims to be balanced but in fact exacerbates the inequity in our economy and society.”

Background
The stakes are high. The outcome of what happens in Washington will have an immediate, direct impact on students, educators, and public education.

The National Education Association is urging Congress to make the tough decisions and the right choices to support public education and children. The massive and potentially harmful, across-the-board cuts to domestic spending programs—including education—would harm low-income students, students with disabilities, and before and after school programs. Therefore Congress needs to act and find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects what’s important to ordinary Americans: jobs, education, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal education programs would receive up to an 8.2 percent cut. According to an NEA analysis, this means that education funding would fall off a cliff, dropping to pre-2003 levels at the same time that education costs have increased by 25 percent for K–12 education, while schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003.

More to the point, the blow to public education could mean $4.8 billion in funding cuts, fewer services for some 9 million students and potential job losses for up to 80,000 educators from pre-K to college.

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org