Teachers' union going after federal dollars to save education jobs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Teachers' union going after federal dollars to save education jobs

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday was National Teachers' Day and schools across south Mississippi took some time to express their appreciation and love for their teachers.  But for many educators, it was hard to celebrate when they faced the possibility of layoffs, furloughs, and fears of more state budget cuts.

"It's really grim at this point, because we have had to let teachers go. We have cut programs that were important," said Nancy Kent, President of the American Federation of Teachers-Mississippi.

During a news conference in Gulfport on Tuesday, the AFT-MS announced a campaign called "Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips."  

"Teachers put their heart and soul into teaching. So please, let our teachers keep their classrooms where their heart and soul is and don't give them pink slips," said Kent.

The teachers' union has 3,500 members. Faced with a tight state budget, members are now turning to the federal government for help. They are urging Mississippi's congressional delegation to vote for two bills that would provide $23 Billion for school districts throughout the country.

Kent said by the end of this school year, about 300,000 teachers, school support staff and college faculty across the country are expected to get pink slips.

"We have to depend on the community to say, 'enough is enough!' Let's go after this federal money that we can get for our schools," said Kent. "So we're calling on parents to write their senators and representatives for our senate bill and our house bill that is in congress, to give us funding."

Educators said without that funding, class sizes would grow, more teachers could end up in the unemployment lines and more programs could land on the chopping block.

"If we get some extra money from the federal government, then we have an opportunity to get some of those programs back and maybe reinstate some of those teachers," said Kent.

The bills before Congress are the Keep Our Educators Working Act and the Local Jobs for America Act.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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