NEA Lobby Report – September 2013

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NEA Directors Lobbying in Washington, D.C. included:  Eric Brown, Joyce Bailey, Tom Tully, Alex Wallace, Vickie Mahrt, Rainy Kaplan and IEA Sec-Treas. Al Llorens and IEA-Retired member Bob Kaplan.

Congressional Offices Visited included:  Representatives Robin Kelly (D-2), William Enyart (D-12), Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Brad Schneider (D-10),  Rodney Davis (R13-), Bill Foster (D-11), John Shimkus (R-19), Aaron Schock (R-18), Danny Davis (D-7), Mike Quigley (D-5), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Education Funding & FY 2014 Budget – House & Senate

Our Message to Members of Congress:

Sequestration’s across-the-board cuts have slashed critical programs like Title I by more than $750 million, IDEA by more than $600 million, and Head Start by more than $400 million. Already, 57,000 children have lost seats in Head Start classes – an opportunity to be school ready that they will never get back.

These cuts are hurting children and students right now. And some cuts never heal. Cuts have had a disproportionate impact on higher-poverty communities and students most in need; one in four children attends school in a district that receives 15-20 percent of its education revenue from federal sources. Professionals like special education aides, reading specialists, and counselors have had jobs eliminated, meaning less individual instruction and attention to students who need it most. Congress must reverse the austerity course, stop these damaging cuts from continuing, and demand additional revenue, including closing corporate loopholes. Kids have already taken on too much of the burden toward deficit reduction and their education must not be cut any further. We urge you to vote against any final FY14 plan to continue funding at sequester levels.

ESEA Reauthorization – Senate

Our Message to the Senators:

NEA believes there are three core themes upon which the next iteration of ESEA should be based to ensure it fulfills its purpose:

1.  Student success – preparing all students to thrive

2.  Accomplished education professionals – supporting great teachers and education support professionals

3.  Social Justice – ensuring equity and opportunity for all students.

We need to ensure students can think critically, solve problems, and are prepared to be engaged citizens. Using multiple sources of evidence of student learning and school performance over time is critical.  We support standards and assessments that are accessible for all students and that address the unique assessment needs of students with disabilities and English-language learners.  We must help districts recruit and retain excellent teachers and education support professionals, especially in hard-to-staff schools.  This means promoting high standards and rigorous preparation for entry into the teaching profession, and fostering comprehensive systems of induction, mentoring, and professional development.  We must adequately and equitably fund our schools, especially critical core programs like Title I and IDEA.  We need sustained and targeted research-based support for struggling or priority schools.  We should ensure all children from low-income families have access to a high-quality early childhood education.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform – House

Our Message to Members of Congress:

Every day, we see the impact our broken immigration system has on our students, their families and our communities.  We must create a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home. We need to ensure a fair process when drafting legislation that takes into consideration who these new Americans are, and what they contribute to our country.

Preserve the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional.  Family unity plays a critical role in student success.  Yet, growing numbers of public school students live in fear that our nation’s immigration policies will break up their families, forcing them to choose between their country and their loved ones – mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. Family-based immigration is essential to keeping America strong.

Incorporate and expand the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Many of the more than 50,000 undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools are unable to pursue higher education simply because they cannot afford it.  We must also ensure that the youngest children, our Little DREAMers, are not excluded from the DREAM Act’s expedited pathway to citizenship simply because of their age. Under current law, undocumented students can be denied access to in-state tuition, federal loans, and health benefits. Addressing these issues is a top priority for America’s educators.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – House&Senate

Our Message to the House and Senate Members:

All persons must have equal opportunity for employment, promotion, compensation, and leadership. Too many educators have been the victims of irrational employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

This discrimination harms the American system of public education and the children it serves. ENDA supports the fundamental American ideal that individuals should be judged in the workplace by their ability to perform the required job rather than by prejudice and discrimination.

Poll after poll of the American public demonstrates the overwhelming support, across party lines, for passage of such anti-employment discrimination legislation.

For the latest NEA information on legislative actions and talking points visit:  www.EducationVotes.nea.org .

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