U.S. House Has Opportunity to Save Jobs Today. Will It?

For President Obama to sign into law a bill passed by the U.S. Senate last week saving 161,000 educators’ jobs in time for the start of the school year, the U.S. House must finalize that vote with its own. Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week called the House back to Washington to take the crucial final vote, scheduled for this afternoon.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said that decision, “demonstrates her commitment not only to putting American workers back to work but also to making sure that children do not bear the brunt of our nation’s economic woes.”

Without the bill, students face class sizes of 35 and 40 students, cuts to courses they need to graduate, and less instruction time.

Hoping to kill the bill, some critics have claimed erroneously in recent days that the $10 billion it provides to save jobs isn’t paid for. In fact, the legislation is fully paid for, and the Congressional Budget Office analysis shows it actually will reduce the deficit over the next decade.

Van Roekel on Monday fired back at critics who claimed that this legislation will benefit ’special interests.’

“Since when did the needs of our nation’s students, the health of low-income Americans, and the safety of our communities become special interests?” he asked. “There are no more excuses. We urge swift passage of this essential legislation. The bottom line is that we need to keep schools open, educators working and students learning.”

Supporters are this week calling 1-866-608-6355, urging their representatives to pass the bill including the education jobs funding. (Learn more about how NEA’s 3.2 million members and supporters are mobilizing to speak up for education and kids at EducationVotes.)

In a letter sent to representatives today, NEA urged them to vote for the nation’s public schoolchildren:

…Governors, parents, civil rights groups, education and community organizations have written letters supporting both the effort to pass an education jobs fund… The school year begins imminently in many states; Congress must complete its work on this important legislation now.  Our children deserve better than class sizes of 40, four-day school weeks, fewer school nurses, fewer course offerings, and fewer after school programs to keep kids safe and enriched.  News accounts from across the country have documented these cuts, as have compelling stories from educators. A failure to support this package would signal a disturbing lack of recognition of the dire cuts that have already been made in public education and will have long-lasting impacts on student achievement and success. As students go back to school, their teachers have already begun heading to the unemployment office. Unless you act now, the numbers released in the fall will reflect hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed educators. According to the Economic Policy Institute, every 100,000 education jobs lost causes a loss of an additional 30,000 private sector jobs in local communities.

…We strongly urge the House to prove that we are not a nation willing to walk away from its children, its seniors, and its disabled during hard times.  This is a defining moment.  The votes you cast will determine what kind of assistance we can provide to millions of Americans across this country who count on their elected officials to put them first.