Friday, July 23, 2010

GOP Leader McConnell Plays Politics With America’s Students

July 23, 2010 by khart’s-students/

By Kevin Hart

Last night Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the Senate from even discussing how to help America’s schools avoid a looming crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tried to bring to the Senate floor an amended version of a $10 billion House education fund that would prevent 138,000 educator layoffs nationwide. School districts across the country are dramatically increasing class sizes, cutting school weeks to four days, and eliminating crucial programs because of budget shortfalls. The new Senate amendment would have used different offsets than the House package and would have been fully paid for.

McConnell, who previously supported a massive, tax-payer funded bailout of the banking industry, blocked the amendments from even bring considered. McConnell has been the leader of a series of obstructionist moves in the Senate, in an effort to halt legislation that would help ease unemployment in the United States.

Recently, McConnell tried to block a Senate effort to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans. This time, McConnell’s victims are millions of American school children, who are certain to feel the pinch from an estimated 300,000 teachers, bus drivers, custodians, counselors, and other essential school staff who may not return to work for the coming school year if the education jobs fund does not pass. Furthermore, the loss of this number of jobs in communities will lead to a ripple effect of an additional 90,000 private sector jobs being lost, according to economic analysis.

Many parents and students return to schools across this country in just a few weeks and they’ll find class sizes of 40, four-day school weeks, no after school programs, and fewer course selections.

“The Senate can avert this crisis for students and communities, but Sen. McConnell won’t even let the Senate debate this question,” said Kim Anderson, Director of Government Relations for the National Education Association. “Parents expect bipartisan solutions, and right now Sen. McConnell is in the way.”

NEA and a coalition of more than 120 education and community groups continue to push for a real, unobstructed vote on the education jobs fund in the Senate. The White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Majority Leader Reid have all expressed their desire to pass this critically needed legislation before Congress leaves for recess. Educators, parents, students, and communities across the country are calling upon Sen. McConnell to allow an up-or-down vote.

To urge the Senate to pass this important funding, click here.

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