Emergency Funding to Prevent Teacher Layoffs

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) and Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) today led a group of 104 other House members in support of an effort to provide emergency funding to save 250,000 education related jobs. In a letter to House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), the group offered its strong support for the inclusion of the $23 billion provision in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that is expected to come up for a vote in the coming weeks.

"This funding would save 250,000 education jobs," said Hinchey. "With school districts throughout the country deciding between teacher layoffs and property tax increases it is now more urgent than ever that we provide this funding.  Our schools are counting on us and we can't let them down."

“In many ways, teachers have bared the brunt of this economic downturn,” Hare said. “In my state of Illinois, nearly 17,000 teachers are set to be laid off before the next school year begins. This is unacceptable. For the sake of our teachers, our students, and our communities, I strongly support the inclusion of $23 billion in emergency funds to stave these layoffs.”

On May 13, 2010, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to House leadership asking for inclusion of the $23 billion provision in the upcoming bill. In December, the House passed the Jobs for Main Street Act, which contained the same provision. This bill was not taken up by the Senate, prompting Hinchey to lead a group of 51 House members in calling for Senate leaders to schedule a vote as soon as possible for an emergency supplemental bill to provide the funding.

Last year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided more than than $100 billion for states to support their public school systems. This funding has been credited with creating and retaining more than 300,000 education-related jobs including positions for teachers, nurses, bus drivers and custodians. It also helped states avoid a budget crisis that would have resulted in significant cuts to school system budgets. With this funding set to run out and states still facing bleak budgetary outlooks, new action is needed to prevent layoffs.