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OUTRAGE: Educators and advocates speak out as across-the-board cuts kick in

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By Colleen Flaherty and Amanda Litvinov

President Obama and key lawmakers met this morning in one last attempt to avoid the sequester cuts totaling $85 billion that go into effect today. The majority of Congress had already left town for the weekend.

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Educators are outraged that inaction on the part of lawmakers means $3 billion will be cut from federal education programs 7.4 million students rely on, including those that serve at-risk and special needs students, rural schools, English language learners, homeless youth and young people aspiring to go to college.

“I can tell you that education cannot afford to have one penny cut from anywhere,” said Cindy Starks, a 6th-grade math teacher from Arlington, Virginia.

“It will be the neediest schools that rely the most on state and federal funds that will be hardest hit by this. I am truly sad that our legislators could not overcome their petty differences to figure this out. Cuts to education hurt us all, but most of all our most vulnerable.”

On top of draconian education cuts made in 2011, these across-the-board cuts rewind federal education spending to pre-2004 levels, although 5.8 million more children are enrolled in our public K-12 and post-secondary schools and it costs 36 percent more to educate them today.

At a press briefing held shortly after the meeting, Obama said this “series of dumb, arbitrary cuts” that will hurt the economy and cost jobs were not necessary.

“It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.  They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit,” said the President.

NEA President and math teacher Dennis Van Roekel was also distressed at lawmakers putting kids’ futures on the line.  “Congress is playing politics with students,” he said. “Due to congressional inaction, a wall of indiscriminate cuts will come crashing down on students and schools.”

Here are three easy and effective ways to raise your voice against the across-the-board cuts!

  1. Sign our Kids Not Cuts pledge.
  2. Share our new infographics on social media to let everyone in your network know how the cuts will affect students in your state.
  3. Use the free NEA Hotline–866-293-7278–to tell your members of Congress: Kids Not Cuts!

Reader Comments

  1. Elaine Russo

    Clare,
    You said it well. It was Obama who decided where to make these cuts. He decided to do it where it hurts the most. Shame on him.

    Reply
  2. Clare

    Obama is working with no one, unless they are completely in agreement with his thinking. If our president was truly concerned about the American people and our countries foundations, (which have made us great) he would not be spending our tax dollars like water,…personally & through wasteful government programs.
    Have you looked closely at details in Obamacare. It is down right scarey. Have you looked into the ridiculous programs our government funds, not just in the US but overseas? And you complain about corporations putting their money overseas.
    Can you not hold your president to the same standard ? Our president is sending money by the billions overseas. This man is truly gifted in one specific area,…deception. This country is loosing it’s foundation not because there are not enough taxes put into governments hands, but too much spending from the hands of government.
    How do people not see this ?

    Reply
  3. Cleta Stotler

    To all members of the NEA that did not vote in the November elections, and ignored learning about the platform of each candidate, and did not gain some knowledge of what the candidate has done in the past, you deserve what you got. For those that did not pay attention when the GOP was talking about cuts, you should have read more information about their goals (if they actually stated them, and if they did not this should have been a definite red flag to you).

    Start paying attention to people running at primary levels in the next election and vote for those that support education. Not only is voting important, but being an informed voter is necessary. It is not President Obama demanding cuts to education, it is the representatives and senators you have voted to represent you in Congress. Mr. Obama is working with those have sent him. Also, start paying close attention to your state candidates (executive, legislative, and judicial branches). Not wise to get all of one party as a majority in these levels of government. Remember, checks and balances you learned about in government.

    I am a Life member of NEA and taught for 43 years.

    Reply
  4. Kerry Hyman

    We’ve had 30 years of the lowest marginal tax rates since before the Great Depression (see: history of marginal tax rates)

    There are a myriad of loopholes written into the tax code that allow the wealthy to hide their money from taxation (see: top ten ways the wealthy escape taxation)

    Corporate tax loopholes account for an estimated $340 BILLION in corporate welfare each year that go to subsidize the most profitable corporations this world has ever seen. (GE makes $4 BILLION pays zero tax, Facebook qualifies for a $425 MILLION tax refund, Exxon/Mobil, etc. etc.)

    Corporations who garner the lion’s share of their profits from the USA consumer market, park their vast profits in offshore bank accounts to escape taxation by their nation of origin with impunity (paying taxes to America the Beautiful is for chumps!). USA corporations (many of whom have offshored jobs) are sitting on $5 TRILLION in profits. (If just $1 BILLION draws a 5% return, sitting in a bank on on the market, that’s $50,000,000- $50 MILLION, get it?)

    Offshoring jobs: 50,000 manufacturing facilities closed up, 9 million jobs offshored (USA Midwest “Industrial Belt” becomes “Rust Belt in just 18 years) China- $1.36/hr. avg. wage exerting downward pressure on wages here to compete. (see history of FTAs)

    Small Businesses (now THERE’S the REAL “job creators;” how disingenuous that phrase has become) who employ USA workers, are cutting costs to the bone, and are, by necessity, exerting downward pressure on wages to compete in the “global economy” that benefits our “multinationals” tremendously.

    Our elected legislators who’ve been bought and paid for by BIG $$$ that has divided America the Beautiful into bits and pieces to turn a larger profit share, have not gone nearly far enough: Here’s a stab at a directional change that would help bring about solvency for our beloved nation:

    1. Return marginal tax rates to those used during the Eisenhower and Kennedy era; the BOOM YEARS! Write within the tax code, a provision for escaping this rate; that being- INVESTING this fabulous wealth in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! (USA corporations, USA Research and Development, USA Aeronautics, USA medical research, USA Entrepreneurialism, USA Bonds, USA Education Funds, USA Universities, NASA, USA construction companies to modernize the infastructure, philantropy, etc., etc.) This would channel the USA wealth into the USA and then back into the wealthy. If the wealthy wish to invest in the China derivatives, et. al., then they would be taxed on their income and returns at the marginal rate.

    2. Reduce corporate tax rates on USA corporations and businesses that stay home and hire USA workers, to anywhere from 0% to 15%, depending on the wage scale and benefits they pay their employees.

    3. Eliminate tax loopholes, subsidies, credits, write-offs, for offshoring corporations to ZERO, ZILCH, ZIPPO, NADDA!

    4. Tariff imports according to the exporting nation’s wage scale and human rights records. (Example: nations who use sweatshop labor conditions, and violate basic human rights would be tariffed at a higher rate, say, 60%, while nations that have a comparable wage scale to ours, and promote the human rights of their workforce would have access to our market, tariff-free.

    Reply
    • Cleta Stotler

      Kerry, I agree with you on all the areas you have addressed.

      Also, I am in favor of placing a tax on Wall Street and trading activities. This tax would be fair and would provide revenue that is needed in a balanced budget, not just cuts as the Conservative Republicans are demanding.

      Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says “the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street.”

      Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced legislation to place a tax on certain trading activities undertaken and by banking and financial firms. According to the sponsors of the legislation “If enacted,the measure would not harm ordinary meddle-class investors or long-term investing, but instead targets financial trading and complex transactions undertaken by financial and investment firms. In the last Congress, the Congressional Joint Tax Committee scored a similar proposal as raising $352 billion over 10 years.

      Another area that I feel should be addressed are the off shore accounts on which no taxes are being paid.

      I believe it is time the people that have been elected to Congress should do what is fair and supportive of the American people. Elected members of Congress take an oath when the are sworn into Congress. Why have most of the Republicans taken an Norquist oath committing themselves to how he believes they should vote? I was under the impression that the oath taken as a member of Congress is to represent the American people to the best of their knowledge. Guess that says a lot about some of our members of Congress. It would be wonderful if we had a Congress where the members were statesmen and not politicians.

      Reply
  5. Merrie East

    Lets make cuts to their benefits and see if they work for everyone then!

    Reply
  6. Levin Messick

    There is a movement to cut Congressional salaries by the percentage of all budget cuts (currently 20%). We need to join it. They really should share their fellow citizen’s pain don’t you think? Their pay should also be docked for every day they are not in session as well. After all it is only fair. .

    Reply
  7. Michelle Morgan

    If they are going to cut funding they need to CUT out NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND too!!! Let’s start teaching students to love learning instead of how to take a TEST!!!

    Reply
  8. dyane welt

    how about we suspend their pay & benefits until education is fully funded.

    Reply
    • Frank Makuch

      When do you think it will ever be fully funded?

      Reply

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