Governors Join Fight for More Education Funding

By Brian Washington

Governors are applying pressure to Congress and the White House to approve federal funding to prevent students from shouldering the impact of hundreds of thousands of education-related layoffs.

So far, governors from Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oregon have all written letters to their congressional delegations, leadership in the U.S. House and Senate, and President Barack Obama in an effort to win approval for an education jobs fund.

“This funding would help prevent thousands of layoffs or a reduction in school days for the 2010-2011 academic year at Oregon K-12 schools,” said Governor Theodore Kulongoski, in a letter to Oregon’s congressional delegation.

“The funding that would be provided through the [education jobs fund] would allow us to preserve the current level of support for education in Illinois,” said Governor Pat Quinn in a letter to President Obama.  “Without additional support, however, the cuts will be devastating and the effects will be felt for years to come.”

Govs. Martin O’Malley (MD), Deval Patrick (MA), and Beverly Perdue (NC) have all written similar letters.  And with state budget deadlines looming and state legislatures across the country facing massive deficits, more governors are expected to apply pressure to their congressional delegations and the White House in favor of the funding.

Congress needs to approve the $23 billion education jobs fund as part of the Emergency War Supplemental.   More than 80-percent of school districts nationwide are expected to announce layoffs—with the total number of job losses reaching 300,000.  The impact is expected to ripple through the economy—which could lose an additional 90,000 more jobs due to reduced consumer spending and less revenue.

Students will also pay the price, in terms of larger class sizes, a 4-day school week, the elimination of music and art classes, and less individualized attention. Our children should not be forced to suffer for the nation’s economic woes. Sure, find ways to cut costs, but not at the expense of our children’s future.