February 13, 2009
Cynthia Leonor Garza
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Congress' Passage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
WASHINGTON–The American Federation of Teachers applauds the passage today of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We especially commend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their leadership in guiding this bill through the Congress. Beginning last October, in testimony before Congress, the AFT has consistently urged policymakers to reinvest, not disinvest, in public education, healthcare and other essential public services to ensure the strength of our nation's economy. The ARRA is a win for hard-working Americans and is especially important for our children. The final bill will bring a much-needed jolt to our economy by providing immediate relief to states to help create and save jobs.
This bill recognizes the pivotal role that education plays in our economy's long-term vitality, and supports education in a way that will strengthen learning opportunities for children. While no package this size is perfect, this bold $790 billion economic stimulus plan will provide critical aid to young children, students and workers.
After the launch last month of the AFT's "Fight For America's Future: It's Dollars and Sense" campaign, AFT members from across the country mobilized, sending more than 30,000 letters and making thousands of phone calls urging their congressional representatives to pass the economic recovery bill. AFT members also have held rallies, testified at school board meetings and traveled to Washington to talk with their members of Congress.
Passing the recovery bill is merely the first step. The next step is to ensure the funds are invested wisely. AFT members will continue to make their voices heard to guarantee that the funding provided for in this package is used to support and strengthen public education, healthcare and the other public services so vital to our nation's growth and stability.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.