House Delivers Victory for Students and Educators Nationwide!

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By Cynthia McCabe

They did it.

By the hundreds of thousands, NEA members, coalition partners, parents, activists and governors called, emailed and lobbied Congress, demanding they do right by the nation’s students and save 161,000 educators’ jobs threatened by budget cuts.

Congress listened and the U.S. House today authorized $10 billion in emergency funds for the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act legislation that will speed money to states to keep teachers and support professionals working.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, which also includes $16 billion to reimburse states for social and medical programs, into law this afternoon.

Without the bill, students returning to school this month and next faced class sizes of up to 40, cuts to courses they need to graduate, and less instruction time.

Without the bill, laid-off North Carolina teacher Bethany Banks had no classroom to return to next week.

“I’m excited,” Banks said of the House victory. She lost her job when her Title I school combined kindergarten and first-grade classes to save money. “Hopefully this will help me have a job when teachers in my district are coming back to school.”

Without the bill, Pennsylvania school bus driver Chuck Thompson could count at least 20 teachers and 17 fellow education support professionals in his district who were going to lose their jobs permanently.

“This is a no-brainer,” Thompson said. “We need this money.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called the House’s vote a victory for students and educators across the country.

‘With this vote, the House reaffirmed that the road to economic security and prosperity runs directly through our nation’s schools,” he said. “As a result of this vote, we expect to see less crowded classrooms, reinstated bus routes and restored education programs and services.’

Analysis by the Congressional Budget Office determined the legislation, which is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over 10 years.

During the five-month campaign by NEA and 187 partner organizations, activists fanned out from state capitals to social media sites to educate legislators and the public on the myriad aftershocks that would follow the proposed severe cuts to public schools. Governors of Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Massachusetts lent their support as well, pointing to the dire situation facing their states’ schools without federal assistance.

Across the country, activists spent the spring and summer sharing their stories on NEA’s EducationVotes about how their layoffs would hurt students. They flew to Washington to lobby their members of Congress. They took to local radio and television airwaves with their message and protested unfair budget cuts at countless state rallies.

Supporters tallied 301,000 emails and 100,000 calls to Congress. More than 35,000 people became active fans of the Speak Up for Education & Kids campaign on Facebook and 145,000 new member lobbyists signed up to take action.

“Several months ago, many considered an education jobs package an impossible dream,” Van Roekel said. “But this victory is the direct result of educators across America speaking up for education and students. Not only will the legislation keep educators working, but it also will ensure that students returning to school in the fall will have the team of educators they need to continue learning.”

Cathy Koehler, a library media specialist in Little Rock, Ark. knew that without the bill, the situation in her state would have been grim.

“It would have been heartbreaking to start the school year without those educators in the classroom,” she said. “That’s not going to happen now.”

To thank your Representative who supported the bill or express your disappointment to those who did not, click here.

To thank your Senators who supported the bill and express your disappointment to those who did not, click here.

Reader Comments

  1. I just confused and would love some clarity on a few questions:

    If this was really about the kids, then why wouldn’t teachers and education workers be willing to take a pay “freeze” like the parents of most of the children you are teaching?

    If the Union can spend millions to lobby and advertise, why doesn’t it use those dollars to fund the pensions and other benefits promised?

    Why are the rest of the tax payers of this nation on the hook for promises of pay and benefits that most of us do not get?

    Will this comment actually make it to your board? Probably not…

    1. dallenh:
      Teachers and other educators across the country have taken pay cuts, benefit reductions or had their salaries frozen, some for years now. Thank God for unions like the NEA, that stand up for students and educators, fair salaries and retirement security. Want to know if teachers are overpaid? Compare other professionals with similar education, training and experience, and you’ll see that teachers don’t fare well. Some people call us a special interest group. If fighting for students, the professionals who teach and care for them everyday, and public education makes us a special interest, then sign me up. Unfortunately, it’s become popular to blame teachers and public schools for a laundry list of society’s problems. I would urge you to join us in making you local schools the best they can be. Our future as a nation depends on it.

  2. I see that the article above mentions the legislation is “fully paid for” but fails to mention that a large chunk of that payment comes in a big cut in food stamp funding.

    1. The “cuts” to the SNAPS (food stamps) program are actually a return to pre-stimulus funding levels. This change will not take effect until 2014 and NEA is dedicated to working with officials to address the issue before that time.

      1. So in actuality it is very possible that the legislation isn’t really “paid for” because many of the legislators who voted for this legislation have alrady said they do not intend for the cuts to actually be made. I would say this is at the least disingenuous, if not outright dishonest. Please tell me (a dues paying member of NEA by the way) that our organization will not be participating in lobbying for the proposed bail-out of government pension plans. That would just be another example of Washington rewarding the irresponsible who spent what they did not have and punishing those who chose to live within their means.

  3. Wonderful news for our students, our teachers, our educators, our communities, indeed, for America. Goes to show that the good guys still can win ’em. Thank you, NEA, for never giving up!

    1. Yes, let the government print the money to bail out government employees and their parasitic unions on the back of all the productive members of society.

      These teachers should have lost their jobs and looked for employment in the private sector, paid for by willing customers instead of by the point of a gun demanding tax dollars.

      1. The biggest WINNERS in the education jobs bill signed into law by President Obama are STUDENTS, who are after all the reason teachers join the profession to begin with. Not only is the bill paid for, it will actually reduce the nation’s deficit by more than $1 billion. Thank you, NEA, for not giving in to the overheated political rhetoric of the moment. Thank you for defending the right of every worker to have the protections teachers enjoy. Reasonable wages with security, benefits, and a pension should be the norm, not the exception.

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