Friday, March 1, 2013

NEA INSIDER--March 1, 2013

Automatic budget cuts to the education programs and services on which middle-class families and the nation’s 50 million students rely go into effect today. Congress’ inability to reach a compromise means $85 billion in across-the-board cuts, including $3 billion to education and Head Start, have been triggered.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said, “The real consequences of the budget cuts—fewer educators and reading coaches, ballooning class sizes, and no after-school tutoring—are keeping educators and students up at night, and they are causing uncertainty and angst as school districts are making budgetary decisions for the upcoming school year… It’s wrong to balance the budget on the backs of students without demanding that corporations and the rich pay their fair share.”
This week, NEA partnered with labor allies AFSCME, SEIU and AFT to create a television spot about the cuts that will begin airing March 4. Called “Remembered,” it singles out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and six members of the Republican-controlled House: Reps. Gary Miller and Jeff Denham of California, Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa, and Rep. Dan Benishek of Michigan.

Now is the time to pull out all the stops and urge Congress to reverse the damaging, across-the-board cuts. Contact Congress immediately! Personalize the impact of the cuts with real-life stories.


Education Votes has created new social media share-ables with national and state-specific data showing how many students will be affected by these unconscionable cuts. Please share them with your networks as soon as you can. They have already been viewed almost 100,000 times in less than 24 hours!
This week, NEA member and California school counselor Vincent Pompei testified before the House Education & the Workforce Committee at a hearing entitled, “Protecting Students and Teachers: A Discussion on School Safety.” He focused on the need to create a safe learning environment in schools beyond just physically securing the building. From his testimony:

“When students feel safe and connected at school, they are more likely to learn. Yet most educators get no training—we call it “professional development”—in what it takes to create a school climate that nourishes mental well-being as well as academic success.

If our nation is serious about keeping students safe, that has got to change. We must do more than react after the damage has been done. We must invest in professional development that acknowledges the need for “preventive care”—a healthy, safe, and inclusive school climate.”

Pompei also addressed the issue of student-to-counselor ratios. The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1. In California, where Pompei lives, the ratio exceeds 1,000 to 1—“a caseload not even Superman could handle!” he observed in his testimony.

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is marking up proposed gun violence legislation. Let your Senator know that you support stronger, sensible measures to prevent gun violence and keep our children and communities safe.

NEA is advocating for a multi-pronged approach to curbing the gun violence plaguing our nation. In addition to stronger laws to limit access to weapons of war, we support:
  • Enhancing school safety while giving local districts the flexibility to decide what they need — counselors, nurses, or other personnel.
  • Providing professional development for all school staff in cultural competence, conflict management, and anti-bullying initiatives.
  • Expanding and improving mental-health services.
Learn more about NEA’s efforts to ensure the safety of all students.
  • E-mail your Members of Congress — Tell them enough is enough. Tell them to take action immediately to help prevent more senseless deaths from gun violence.
  • Sign NEA’s petition — Support meaningful action on preventing gun violence, bullying, and expanding and improving mental-health services.
  • Send your stories to— Lawmakers need to hear from educators about what they can do to help prevent more tragedies. Have you or your school been touched by gun-related violence? What have you experienced as an educator when discussing such incidents with your students? Tell us!

NEA’s priorities for comprehensive immigration reform include providing a path to legal citizenship, promoting family unity, and passing the DREAM Act. Read NEA’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on this issue.

On February 28, the House passed the NEA-supported Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act by a margin of 286-138. Click here to see how your representative voted. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law shortly. In addition to streamlining and updating VAWA, the bill provides important new protections for LGBT and Native American women, and will help ensure the continued funding of critical VAWA-supported programs. Since the enactment of VAWA, the rate of domestic violence has been cut in half and the number of people who have died at the hands of an intimate partner has fallen by 34 percent for women and by 57 percent for men.

Cheers to:

thumbsup Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) and to Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for sponsoring bipartisan resolutions recognizing Read Across America in the House and the Senate, respectively.
thumbsup Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) and 17 Republican colleagues who sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) urging them to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
Jeers to:
thumbsup Jeers to Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA) for proposing a “sequester substitute” that would continue job-killing, economy-slowing deep cuts of $85 billion this year alone, putting essential services like education at even greater risk while preserving tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations.