WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest teachers union launched a campaign Thursday against proposed cuts to education programs, specifically targeting their blitz on the local level to grab the attention of senators’ constituents.
“These cuts are drastic,” said National Education Association President Keith Geiger. He warned that budget cuts at the state level will provide a “double-whammy” to school funding.
The NEA plans to flood the airwaves the next few weeks with advertisements cautioning residents of the impact federal cuts will have on their particular state.
In Maine alone, the NEA says cuts proposed by the House of Representatives would deny Pell Grants to 1,300 students as well as cut more than 2,700 summer jobs for state teens.
The Senate this week began deliberating funding for education and other federal programs as Republican leaders reasserted their vow to balance the budget in seven years.
Geiger hopes the NEA campaign will serve as a pre-emptive strike to that debate. “To balance the budget on the back of our neediest children is not the way to do it,” he said in a conference call with reporters.
“There’s nothing magical about seven years,” Geiger added.
The NEA campaign plans to focus its effort on senators like Maine’s William Cohen and Olympia Snowe, moderate Republicans whose votes have been critical to legislation so far this fall.
Cohen and Snowe have supported efforts by their Republican colleagues to balance the budget, but have opposed deep cuts in education programs.