By Len Feldman
CTA and NEA representatives are pressing Congress for the approval of a $23 billion measure aimed at protecting students from the devastating effects of massive budget cuts. With California schools having already suffered more than $17 billion in slashes and facing more than $4 billion in additional cuts proposed in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s May Revision, the federal Keep Our Educators Working Act would provide schools in California and across the nation with funds to stave off some of the most draconian cuts.
The bill, a targeted state fiscal stabilization plan authored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would help prevent massive class size increases and a significant reduction in individual attention for students. In California, more than 26,000 teachers have received layoff notices, with the state facing a $19.1 billion revenue shortfall, according to the governor’s Department of Finance.
“CTA/NEA Board members lobbied hard in Washington, D.C., in April in support of this legislation by Senator Harkin and in support of efforts by Senator Harkin and U.S. Representatives George Miller [D-Calif.] and David R. Obey [D-Wis.] to have these provisions placed in an emergency appropriations bill,” says CTA President David A. Sanchez. “The Obama administration is fully in support of this vital legislation. Administration representatives understand how badly these cuts will harm our students and our schools. They also know these cuts will ripple through the rest of the economy, making economic recovery harder to achieve for everyone.”
According to NEA statistics, as many as 300,000 educators throughout the United States could lose their jobs without inclusion of the Harkin amendment in pending emergency funding measures.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel asks, “How can we give our children a world-class education when teachers and other education personnel are in unemployment lines instead of in classrooms and schools?”