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Educators highlight economic struggles facing families and students

Senate hearing shines spotlight on lives of everyday Americans


WASHINGTON - February 25, 2014 -

Edith Kimball, a wife, mother of three, and elementary school food service professional at Lee Elementary School, and Courtney Johnson, wife, mother and high a school English teacher at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic high school, today provided personal stories to Senate lawmakers about the economic struggles of working families in America. Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and the Senate Budget Committee called the hearing to more fully understand the issues and concerns facing working families and families working to break into the middle class.

The hearing took place on the heels of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, where one in five children still lives in poverty. More than 2.3 million children live with a long-term unemployed parent — triple the number just five years ago. The average American household made less in 2012 than it did in 1989. For the nation’s educators like Edith and Courtney, these “statistics” are too often the families and the students they serve. Edith is member of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers as well as the Florida Education Association. Courtney is an NEA and Ohio Education Association member.

Below are highlights of their prepared testimony.

Edith Kimball, Lee Elementary School, Fort Lee, Florida

“My school, like our county, is poor. A few years ago almost all our kids were on free or reduced price lunch, and now a new grant helps provide meals to all of them. I love preparing healthy meals for them, even though many are picky eaters. And I know many of their families, like mine, struggle to make ends meet.

“I know that Congress is talking about raising the minimum wage. For me, in my job, that would mean an increase of $200 more a month for my family. That would help give us a just a little more in our budget. It could help me open a college savings plan for my children for their future.”

Read Kimball's full testimony here.

Courtney Johnson, Fort Hayes Arts and Academic high school. Columbus, Ohio

“I am frustrated that the pathways to the middle class that existed for my generation no longer exist for my students or my son. Why does the American dream have to end with me?

“When I was a little girl growing up in Ironton, Ohio, I knew that college was how I entered the middle class. Becoming a teacher was not something I settled for as a career. I made a choice. Teaching was my pathway to making a middle class life that would allow me to build lives, too. Where are we as a country when the folks who teach our children can’t have a stable economic avenue into the middle class?”  

Read Johnson's full testimony here.               

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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


RELATED LINKS

Stagnant minimum wage devastates student learning, happiness, say educators

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to raise the minimum wage to help students and families