Friday, July 23, 2010

A Letter from Senator Harkin Concerning Education in Iowa

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Iowa education budget. This is an important issue and I'm always glad to hear your thoughts.

In the wake of a serious recession, schools in Iowa and across the country face a crushing budget shortfall in the approaching school year. While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been successful in sustaining more than 6,000 education jobs in Iowa, school systems across the board are on the edge of a "funding cliff" as these funds expire. Education Secretary Arne Duncan predicts that school systems nationwide could eliminate as many as 300,000 education jobs, from teachers and librarians, to bus drivers and support staff.

The devastating impact of this potential job loss would be two-fold. Not only will we lose precious jobs just as our economy is turning a corner, but widespread layoffs risk forfeiting the education of a generation of American children. That's why on April 14, 2010, I was proud to introduce the Keep Our Educators Working Act. This act would create a $23 billion Education Jobs Fund that states could use for the specific purpose of retaining or hiring employees at all levels of education, from pre-K through higher education.

Iowa alone would receive over $224 million in funding from this legislation. This funding would go a long way to support struggling community school districts in Iowa. Schools in Iowa have already been forced to make tough budget cuts, with some reducing kindergarten to half-days, delaying textbook purchases, and cutting music and art classes.

We must not fall behind as world leaders in education, and we cannot afford to let a vital sector of our economy founder. In the coming months, I will be doing all I can to see the Keep Our Educators Working Act signed into law. Thanks again for contacting me about the Iowa education budget. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any additional questions or concerns.


Tom Harkin

Tom Harkin
United States Senator