WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2010 - New York's two U.S. senators are voicing strong support for legislation moving through Congress that would help school districts to pull back most - if not all - of the estimated 15,000 pink slips now being handed out to New York teachers and other education professionals.
Addressing New York State United Teachers' 38th Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand pledged to work hard for swift passage of the $23 billion Keep Our Educators Working Act. Both Gillibrand and Schumer are co-sponsors of the new legislation, which would direct $1.4 billion to New York for one year which school districts would be required to use to retain education jobs. The money could not be used to retire debt, lower taxes or be put in a reserve fund.
Schumer said the cuts proposed by school districts facing a $1.4 billion shortfall in state aid "should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about the future of education, and the future of New York's children."
Gillibrand, speaking to 3,000 union delegates immediately after Schumer, said, "Laying off teachers and support staff would be disastrous for our communities and for the future of our children."
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the timing is critical - the jobs bill must be adopted soon, as soon as possible to stave off damage in the classroom. "The devastating cuts proposed for schools would further undermine our economic recovery while setting back our education progress by years. The state's dire fiscal situation is not our students' fault, yet they will feel the impact now - and for the rest of their years in school."
NYSUT delegates passed a special resolution embracing passing of the Keep Our Educators Working Act, and sent more than 6,000 faxes in support of the bill and other education legislation.
The U.S. Senate is currently considering the legislation, introduced by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and others on April 14. The Keep Our Educators Working Act seeks to use funding provided in the two-year State Fiscal Stabilization Fund - part of the mammoth American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - to save many of the estimated 100,000 education jobs on the chopping block nationwide.
The Keep Our Educators Working Act has also picked up the strong support of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who testified recently that, "We absolutely need a jobs bill. It's the right thing for our country; it's the right thing for our economy; it's the right thing for our children."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.