May 8, 2009
Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten
On President Obama's Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Proposal
WASHINGTON—President Obama's budget, particularly when viewed in light of the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provides important investments in public schools, high-quality early education, other supports for disadvantaged children and expanded access to higher education.
The proposed budget reflects the president's goal of ensuring that all students receive a rich, rigorous education that prepares them for college or the workforce after high school. It also provides additional funding for early education programs that make a tremendous difference in children's lives. And, by making Pell Grants mandatory instead of discretionary, the budget gives more Americans the opportunity to attend college.
The budget also reaffirms the president's commitment to undertaking healthcare reform by seeking to control costs to expand coverage for more Americans. As Congress prepares to address this issue, the AFT will fight for the establishment of an effective public plan, and will oppose proposals that would require workers to pay taxes on their employer-provided health insurance.
While there is much to applaud in the president's budget, we are disappointed that it includes continued public funding for private school vouchers in Washington, D.C. The foundations that have championed vouchers all these years easily could have raised the funds to ensure the children already participating in this program would not have their education disrupted. What is equally disappointing is that they are using these children, who are blameless, as pawns in their ideological battle.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.