February 19, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On House Passage of Temporary Spending Bill
Deep cuts in education, social programs would hurt the neediest
WASHINGTON—We are bitterly disappointed by the Republican majority’s unprecedented and reckless cuts to vital public services contained in the continuing resolution bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. This draconian approach to budgeting will harm working families and students, lead to further jobs losses, and destabilize our economic recovery.
Slashing School Improvement Grants to transform low-performing schools, reducing Pell Grants for low-income college students and making dramatic cuts in Head Start and Title I programs for disadvantaged kids won’t help improve student achievement, won’t create one new job and will actually make it harder for kids to be prepared for life, college and career. This spending bill won’t help us be competitive at home or abroad. Congress needs to work on a real plan to help stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Given the need to spend federal dollars wisely and improve schools with proven programs, it’s hard to understand why the Republicans want to expand the federal school-voucher program in Washington, D.C., which essentially takes resources away from the public schools and gives them to private schools. You shouldn’t rob Peter to pay Paul when you’re dealing with kids.
In addition to education, the bill also unfortunately includes cuts to necessary programs like Community Development Block Grants, hinders important medical research, takes cops off our streets, and undermines workplace safety.
Our state and local governments continue to struggle with declining revenues and rising needs. The deep cuts in H.R.1 will only make their problems worse.
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The AFT represents 1.5 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.