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Letter the Senate seeking cosponsors for the America's Better Classroom Act

May 22, 2007

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to add your name as a cosponsor of the America's Better Classroom Act (S. 912), introduced by Senator Rockefeller (D-WV). This important legislation will assist states in meeting local school facility needs by providing resources to build, repair, and renovate America's schools.

America's schools are in desperate need of repair and renovation. Across the country, students learn in overcrowded classrooms with peeling paint, leaking roofs, and faulty wiring. Some schools hold classes in temporary trailers, converted closets, and hallways. Too many students attend schools that lack basic electrical and telecommunications equipment necessary for connection to the Internet or the use of new education technologies. Students attending schools in less than adequate condition face direct impacts on academic achievement, as well as significant dangers to personal health and safety.

There is a growing body of research supporting the relationship between the condition of school facilities and student achievement. A recent study (The Walls Speak: The Interplay of Quality Facilities, School Climate, and Student Achievement, 2006) found a positive correlation between school condition, school climate, and student achievement. Another study (The Impact of School Environments, 2005) found that the majority of 25 years of research supported the relationship between school quality and student performance. Conversely, a study of Houston schools (The Wise Man Builds His House Upon the Rock, 2004) demonstrated how poor school conditions related to poor school performance.

Unsafe and inadequate school facilities also impact classroom order and discipline. Modern, safe environments encourage learning and discourage disruptive behavior, while overcrowded classrooms make it more difficult to maintain classroom order.

The America's Better Classroom Act will provide for the issuance of more than $25 billion in bonds for school modernization and new construction projects nationwide. Under the bill, the federal government would provide tax credits to bond holders in lieu of interest payments, and the state or school district would only be responsible for repaying the principal. This would save millions of dollars in interest payments for states and districts and help communities stretch limited resources to pay for additional school facility projects and essential education programs.

To cosponsor S. 912, please contact Barbara Pryor in the office of Senator Rockefeller at 4-6472.

We thank you for your consideration of our views on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy