The Missouri Commissioner of Education joined national education leaders and policymakers on a conference call stressing the importance of a proposed $10 billion aimed to save teaching jobs nationwide.
Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro says the funding could save 3,200 Missouri teachers’ jobs.
“We received this past year about $1.2 billion less in revenue than we did the year before. We don’t anticipate that turning around significantly this year and we know these additional funds are going to be necessary to maintain jobs,” Nicastro said.
Nicastro says in her 34 years in education, times have never been so desperate.
“I’ve never seen it like this. I think that schools and school districts, certainly all over Missouri and I believe all over the country are having to make some decisions that they’ve never had to make before. Some choices that they’re having to make about programming and about services to children and families are truly unprecedented,” Nicastro said.
She says full-day kindergarten and summer school has been pared down or eliminated in many districts across the state. She’s also concerned about Missouri’s strong emphasis on parental education being threatened by cuts.
She says there are others that will be impacted aside from teachers.
“As teachers lose their buying power, other services and other businesses in those surrounding communities are also feeling the pinch. The economic crisis in Missouri and in our local communities and there’s no question to us that this money is essential to us to make up some the difference for what we’re feeling locally,” Nicastro said.
But the matter is not simple. The proposal is bogged down in the House right now, partly because it’s attached to a supplemental spending bill originally intended to fund the war in Afghanistan. Another complicating factor is that the current plan is to rescind $4 billion dollars from reform programs like “Race to the Top” to put toward the $10 billion for teacher salaries.
“We believe strongly that jobs and reform must go together, that we cannot afford to roll back the clock on educational reform. We would certainly urge the Senate and the House to find other means of funding the jobs bill beyond making cuts to important reform efforts like Race to the Top, TIF, and the charter schools,” Nicastro said.
The White House strongly agrees, going as far as to say the President will veto the spending bill if it includes the plan to rescind money from those reform programs.