By Miguel Gonzalez and Cynthia McCabe
The House of Representatives has voted to approve funding that will save an estimated 138,000 educator jobs. NEA members called Congress by the hundreds, adding to more than 60,000 calls made in the weeks leading up to the crucial vote.
The measure passed shortly before 10:30 p.m. Thursday by a vote of 239-182 with one member voting “present.” All of the lawmakers lobbied by NEA members brought to Washington from across the country voted yes on this critical legislation.
Mitzi Ridinger, a laid off pre-K teacher from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, felt her visit was worthwhile because of the face-to-face time spent with Representative Dan Boren, who supported the legislation. “I was able to see first-hand the power of political action,” said Ridinger.
‘We applaud the House of Representatives for speaking up for public education and students,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said. ‘Today, as a direct result of educators’ voices and efforts, we are a step closer to making sure children do not have to bear the brunt of our nation’s economic woes.”
Action moves next to the Senate, which will take the jobs funding up after the July 4 recess. The pressure that NEA members and supporters applied to the House will be crucial when this happens.
Funding approved with the vote will help states to cope with the Great Recession and stave off massive layoffs of educators and cuts to programs. The spending measure, which includes billions in aid to public schools and other critical domestic priorities, now moves to the Senate.
The timely action by the House of Representatives comes at a critical time. School budgets across the country have already been cut to the bone, forcing massive layoffs of teachers and education support professionals.
Some districts are moving to four-day school weeks, gutting critical services and programs for students, or even closing schools entirely. Other districts are projecting class sizes to double as a direct result of the layoffs. These layoffs and cuts are coming at the same time schools are facing demands for better academic outcomes.
NEA launched a national campaign called Speak Up for Education & Kids to mobilize educators and others concerned about the budget crisis facing states and to raise awareness about the consequences of inaction. NEA will continue to put pressure on policymakers until they put students before politics.
‘Similarly, we appreciate the unbending support of governors across the country to ensure financial relief for struggling states and keep our nation on the road to economic recovery,” Van Roekel said.
He urged the Senate to act swiftly to pass the emergency funding bill and stave off more economic damage to our schools.
“We need to keeping schools open, educators working and students learning,” Van Roekel said.
To email a thank you to your Representatives, click here.
To email your Senators and ask them to support education funding, click here.
For more information on Speak Up for Education & Kids, visit www.facebook.com/speakupforkids, For more information on saving educators’ jobs, visit educationvotes.nea.org/. Follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/NEAMedia.