More than a thousand CEA members have called or sent their Congressional representatives an email to urge that the national teacher jobs bill be kept alive. Have you joined them? It’s vital that more teachers take action to extend the advocacy. Keeping the calls and emails going to Capitol Hill provides more reasons to illustrate why the Keep Our Educators Working Act is critical.
If you have yet to contact your U.S. Representative, please take a moment to do so now. Call or email and ask your Representative to support the Keep Our Educators Working Act. This legislation could have a significant, positive impact for schools, students, and teachers in Connecticut.
On Monday, Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Mark McQuillan, sent letters to Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation to ask for their support of the Keep Our Educators Working Act. The legislation would offer a further $23 billion to schools across the country to help prevent layoffs. Read the Commissioner’s news release and letter.
Stimulus money for Connecticut’s schools will be drying up next year, and without additional federal funds, schools will likely face significant numbers of layoffs.
“Without action by Congress to continue its support of our schools, we face dire consequences at the local level,” wrote McQuillan. “While the total allocation to education under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was a small fraction of the federal TARP funding that went to Wall Street, funds awarded to local school districts had a tremendous stabilizing effect on our local communities that kept local property taxes stable, teachers teaching and our classrooms functioning. School superintendents and local boards of education throughout Connecticut have been very concerned about Fiscal Year 2011-12 when the ARRA funding comes to an end.”
Key state economists gathered at CEA today – along with reporters – to discuss a variety of topics from the depth of the state recession to the wisdom of how federal stimulus funds were applied by state policymakers. The reason for their meeting was the release of the Spring 2010 issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review.
In an overview of the latest issue of the review, Steven Lanza, the review’s executive editor, compared the severity of Connecticut’s recession to that of other states. In a relative sense, it was not as deep in Connecticut for complex reasons from homebuilding to the finance industry.
As for the future, particularly the looming state budget deficit, Lanza warned that education is vulnerable . Lanza detailed the areas of the state budget that will have to do some “heavy lifting” unless revenues rise or changes are made in the tax structure.
John Yrchik, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, has a guest column in the new issue of the review. He argued that Governor M. Jodi Rell’s use of federal stimulus money will put K-12 education at a disadvantage when the extra funding runs out.
Yrchik wrote, “By supplanting state education aid with federal dollars, Connecticut reduced its own contribution to public education by $269.5 million per year— a 14% reduction in state education aid to municipalities.” Connecticut created a funding cliff that other states did not.
Economist Arthur Wright summed up the situation telling reporters that Connecticut essentially squandered the stimulus. “We had a great opportunity to use the stimulus to create jobs, but we didn’t. We squandered the stimulus.”
This week President Obama proposed closing and reopening 1000 failing schools per year for the next five years. Where did this come from! Officially the notion was floated by Secretary Duncan while making opening remarks to an audience at the Brookings Institute in Washington this past Monday. But why now?
Is it puzzling that just as the secretary embarks on a “national listening tour” to seek the opinions of educators and parents regarding the impact of NCLB , we hear of yet another five year plan to deal with failing schools? Perhaps the timing of this may have something to do with an article published in the New Yorker last week – The Instigator: A crusader’s plan to remake failing schools – a profile of Steve Barr, the founder of Green Dot Public Schools, California’s largest non-profit charter school operator. Read more
State Department of Education officials present to CEA. From left to right are Associate Commissioner Marion Martinez, Commissioner Mark McQuillan, Special Education Chief Anne Louise Thompson, and Chief of Curriculum & Instruction Barbara Westwater.
State education officials are seeking guidance and getting answers from the U.S. Department of Education about how to use new federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They shared what they have learned with CEA staff at CEA headquarters yesterday.
Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan and his staff say they believe it’s a good idea for CEA staff to sit down with local school administrators to develop ways to maximize the new federal money, including identifying ways to save teachers’ jobs. Read more and listen to excerpts of the presentation.