Rally, hearing seek to keep students from going off budget cliff
by Tim Reed/photos courtesy of NEA interns Tyler Earl and Dakotah Thompson
Today, a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee held a hearing to address the impact of pending drastic budget cuts on 9 million students and what will happen to educator jobs and student services if Congress does not act to avoid going off the budget cliff.
The hearing was followed by a rally at the Capitol hosted by Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa, that was attended by hundreds of students and activists who are urging action before the end of the year to avoid the looming cuts.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Senators at this morning’s hearing to warn of the devastating cuts that are possible for education services. “I know our children are as talented, as creative, and as entrepreneurial as any children in the world,” said Duncan, “and if we do not foster that potential and fulfill our promises, shame on us.”
Senator Patty Murray, Washington, echoed Duncan’s concerns, saying, “Here in D.C. we hear a lot about the impact of the defense cuts – they seem to get most of the attention, but across America, all the automatic cuts would be deeply damaging to families and communities.”
Harkin also took this opportunity to release a new report, “Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services.” According to NEA estimates, this would mean a $4.5 billion cut to education, with funding below 2003 levels. Almost every education program across the country would see cuts, including Title I and Title II, technical education programs, special education grants, and more.
Arizona educator and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel penned a blog entry for Education Week yesterday highlighting the damaging effects these cuts would have on students:
In practical terms, it means fewer services for nine million public school students and job losses for 80,000 Americans. In real terms, it means students sitting on the floor because their classes are too big, four-year-olds cheated out of early childhood education and parents losing their homes because they are out of work.
More than 3,000 national, state and local organizations are working together to raise awareness about what’s at stake if Congress allows these cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs and demand that tax reform be part of the solution. Among them are NEA, 29 of its state affiliates, and 49 local affiliates. You can show your support by posting articles like this one to your social networks and using the coalition’s Twitter hash tag: #NDDUnited.
The activists who attended today’s rally were able to make their voices heard, and you can too:
- Tell Congress not to allow any further cuts to education budgets in NEA’s Legislative Action Center.
- Then call 888-744-9958 (toll free) to tell your elected leaders that asking the richest 2 percent to pay their fair share of taxes will provide needed revenue.
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