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Letter to the Senate urging support of increased education funding

March 12, 2008

Dear Senator:


Our nation must equip the next generation of Americans to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century. Votes associated with the issues below may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress. On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to:

  • Support the Chairman’s proposed fiscal year 2009 budget resolution, which provides $19.7 billion more for education than the Administration has requested, including $13 billion in tax provisions, $5.7 billion in discretionary funding, and a $2 billion deficit-neutral reserve fund for school construction and reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
  • Support the Kennedy-Pryor amendment that would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to raise the achievement of secondary school students — for example, by encouraging them to complete middle school and graduate from high school in preparation for higher education and entering the workforce.
  • Support the Sanders amendment that would raise the top income tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million per year to provide revenue to address children’s most urgent unmet needs, including provision of an additional $10 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $5 billion for Head Start, $4 billion for child care development block grants, and $3 billion for school construction.
  • Support the Kennedy amendment that would expand the reserve fund for higher education to allow Congress to act to ensure continued access to low-interest, federally-guaranteed student loans.

We also encourage you to provide for fiscal relief to the states and to develop a second, sorely needed stimulus package. Two weeks ago, 1,000 teachers in San Diego, California, received layoff notices precipitated by a $16 billion shortfall in state revenues — and that is just the beginning of the bad news. To help those hardest hit, we support extending unemployment insurance and moratoria on several Medicaid regulations, especially the Administration’s proposal to no longer provide reimbursement for school-based transportation. We support the proposed change in the Medicare Advantage program as well.    

The federal budget should reflect our nation’s priorities. Top among those priorities should be ensuring that all children have a quality education, best obtained through additional investments in proven programs such as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, IDEA, Pell grants for higher education, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). We must make higher education more accessible and affordable; modernize and build public schools; reduce teachers’ out-of-pocket expenditures for classroom materials; provide healthcare for the six million children eligible for — but not enrolled in — either Medicaid or SCHIP; and pave the way to reauthorizing the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, thereby providing critical payments to 4,400 school districts in rural counties in 42 states.

The proposed Senate budget resolution and amendments cited above are essential steps toward meeting the needs of underfunded programs and fulfilling every child’s basic right to a great public school. We look forward to working with you on these and other issues as the fiscal year 2009 budget moves forward.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy