The president of the state teacher’s union is asking Iowa’s congressional delegation to support legislation that would send millions more in federal aid to America’s schools. Iowa State Education Association president Chris Bern has met with Iowa’s five congressmen and two senators — and he says the Democrats appear supportive of the Education Jobs Bill.
“Teachers all across the state along with all across the country are being ‘pink-slipped’ and positions are not being filled and so forth,” Bern says. “We need some money to keep people in their positions.”
The bill, in its present form, is sometimes called the “second” economic stimulus package, too. It would provide an addition $23 billion in salary money for teachers and other school staff. The first stimulus bill included money targeted for education, too. “We would have been facing large (teacher) layoffs a year ago had that money not come through,” Bern says. “The trouble is the economy hasn’t turned around quick enough so, you know, we need the second stimulus.”
This “second” stimulus package was first introduced by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate committee that deals with education issues. Bern was in Washington, D.C. this spring to testify before Harkin’s committee. Bern estimates 3400 jobs in Iowa’s public schools would be saved if the bill becomes law.
“Those positions would be in schools all across the state. I mean, nobody is being spared from this,” Bern says. “And so we have small schools, we have large schools that need to have positions restored.”
Bern says he is “optimistic” congress will forward more federal money to the nation’s schools. “When I talk to the people in Washington, D.C., when I talk to our national people who are dealing with it more on a daily basis, they see more and more people up on ‘The Hill’ — up in the Capitol — starting to sign onto this, saying that we need it,” Bern says. “So I’m hopeful that we will soon have an Education Jobs Bill passed.”
None of the three Republicans who serve in Iowa’s congressional delegation voted for the first stimulus package, while all four Iowa Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate voted for it.