April 12, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Congressional Action To Prevent a Government Shutdown
WASHINGTON—Although this compromise keeps the government running, which is clearly necessary, it is far from perfect.
There is no doubt that a government shutdown would have been devastating. A shutdown would have cut off services that millions of Americans depend on, put the ongoing economic recovery at risk, and made it difficult for federal workers to provide for themselves and their families. However, we hope that, in the future, the legislative process will be more thoughtful and transparent, and that effective and vital education programs are not used as bargaining chips. Although many details about specific funding cuts are still unknown, news accounts suggest that much of the burden falls on the people who are least able to weather tough economic times.
We are very disappointed that this deal wastes scarce tax dollars on school vouchers in the District of Columbia, a program that has been shown to be ineffective at raising student achievement. News reports indicate that the deal also includes new funding for Race to the Top, a competitive grant program that serves only students in a few “winning” states. A competitive grant program may be prudent in times of plenty, but it is difficult to justify when effective programs are being cut.
Going forward, we will work with Congress and the White House to ensure that America’s budget priorities are more closely aligned with the priorities of the American people, who want more and better job opportunities, strong public schools, and a better, brighter future for themselves and their children.
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The AFT represents 1.5 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.