Letter to the House and Senate Urging Cosponsorship of the Fix America's Schools Today Act
October 26, 2011
On behalf of the 3.2 million dedicated members of the National Education Association, we urge you to add your name as a cosponsor to the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act (S. 1597/H.R. 2948), introduced by Senator Brown (D-OH) and Representative DeLauro (D-CT). This critical legislation would provide urgently needed resources for school and campus repair and modernization.
Investments in education such as targeted resources for school and campus repair and modernization will jump start the economy and ensure students the learning environments so essential to their success. Our children deserve manageable class-sizes and modernized and energy-efficient school buildings. Yet, on average, our public schools are more than 40 years old and need an estimated $500 billion in repairs and upgrades. It is shameful that today’s students must go to school in yesterday’s school buildings, with out of date technology and often unsafe, crumbling infrastructure.
Consider these examples, only a small sample of stories submitted every day by NEA members across the nation:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
We invite you to read more stories, organized by state, on NEA’s Education Votes website.
The FAST Act will help address this unacceptable situation by providing $30 billion to repair and modernize our nation’s public schools. In so doing, it will help make sure that our students have the learning environments they need to succeed and to ensure our nation’s future economic competitiveness. In addition, it will help create good jobs to put Americans back to work. Construction and building repair generally create 9,000-10,000 jobs per billion dollars spent. Eliminating just half the backlog in needed repairs and improvements would, over a period of years, create more than two million much-needed jobs.
The FAST Act also includes $5 billion to modernize community college facilities. Community college enrollments continue to rise as workers seek to enhance their skills in order to find employment in this tough economy or advance in their careers. Modernization of facilities is critical to accommodate these record numbers of students.
The FAST Act is common-sense legislation that will make a real difference to our students and to our strength as a nation. To add your name as a cosponsor, please contact Margie Glick in Senator Brown’s office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 4-1359) or Daniel Zeitlin in Representative DeLauro’s office (Daniel.Zeitlin@mail.house.gov or 5-3661).
Thank you for your immediate attention to this important issue.
Director, Center for Advocacy
Manager, Federal Advocacy