Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today voiced his support for Rep. David Obey’s amendment to this year’s Supplemental Appropriations Act. The amendment would, among other measures, create a $10 billion federal Education Jobs Fund to save public teacher jobs nationwide and add almost $5 billion to address the chronic shortfall in Pell Grants.
The amendment, which would be offset in part by an $800 million reduction in discretionary grants at the Department of Education, is necessary because of “penny-pinching deficit hawks who demand that we offset education spending rather than wars overseas,” Grijalva said. “Having teachers back home who help our kids learn to read and write is not a luxury. This unfortunate choice is really no choice at all – we have to keep as many teachers on the job as we can, especially in this economic downturn when education is facing big local budget cuts.”
Obey’s proposal would save approximately 140,000 public school jobs, according to a Congressional analysis. His amendment to the supplemental funding bill would make “unfortunate cuts to other domestic programs,” Grijalva said, noting that such cuts “are made necessary by so-called fiscal hawks’ insistence that we put tax cuts and indefinite wars ahead of the needs of our children, wounded veterans and small businesses at home.” If those teachers are fired, he said, “Who could look the hundreds of thousands of affected parents and students in the eye and explain why we let this happen?”
Grijalva called on Congress to “reject this false choice between extending Bush-era tax cuts, which will cost the nation more than $400 billion over the next three years, and adequately funding our nation’s schools. This is not a choice that serves the American people. Tightening our belts another notch every six months, while continuing to slash government revenue and spend what little we have on unproductive occupations of foreign countries, is ridiculous public policy.”
In announcing his support for Obey’s amendment, Grijalva added, “We cannot continue on like this forever, but if tough choices must be made, I choose to keep teachers in schools rather than allowing class sizes to reach 50 or 60 students. Inner-city and rural schools, where pressures on public education are already severe, cannot bear the brunt of a round of massive teacher layoffs.”
Grijalva called on his colleagues to “stand with our public schools in their hour of need. The alternatives are too ugly to contemplate.”