Federal Federal File

AFT, NEA Back Economic Stimulus

By Alyson Klein — November 04, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The presidents of both national teachers’ unions told a House panel last week that investing in school facilities could help put the economy on a firmer footing.

The Oct. 29 hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee explored whether Congress should enact a new economic-stimulus package during a possible lame-duck session after the election. The legislation could include aid for states and localities, such as money for highway infrastructure, school construction, and other projects designed to spur the sputtering economy.

Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, argued that steering money toward education would help the nation emerge from the economic downturn and ultimately enable the next generation of Americans to compete in the global economy.

“Some may think it’s odd for the presidents of both teachers’ unions to be at a hearing on economic stimulus,” said Ms. Weingarten, who leads the 1.4 million-member AFT. “The simple fact is this: education and the economy are intertwined,” she said. “Neither is strong when the other is weak. … When the economy is weak and governments make spending cuts, they all too often occur in K-16 programs.”

Mr. Van Roekel, the head of the 3.2 million-member NEA, said investing $20 billion over the next five years would support about 50,000 jobs annually, while also improving the learning environment for students.

Other witnesses on the panel included governors and other state officials, such as Gov. David A. Paterson of New York, a Democrat, and Douglas Palmer, the Democratic mayor of Trenton, N.J. Most favored a stimulus package that would include some aid to states and municipalities.

But Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Republican, argued that the spending package would add to the federal deficit. “We’re talking about borrowing more money from our kids and grandkids,” he said. “I think there’s some irony in borrowing more to deal with a problem that was ultimately created by excessive borrowing.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 05, 2008 edition of Education Week


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What the Federal 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Actually Says
The bill would restrict federal funds for lessons on LGBTQ identities. The outcome of this week's election could revive its prospects.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol on March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee on March 7, 2022. Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law was a model for a federal bill introduced last month.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.
Federal Opinion NAEP Needs to Be Kept at Arm’s Length From Politics
It’s in all our interests to ensure NAEP releases are buffered from political considerations and walled off from political appointees.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new resource summary related to pregnancy discrimination in schools.
2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
iStock/Getty Images Plus