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NEA President: Pres. Barack Obama sets right budget priorities for America

Students and families will reap the benefits of smart and pragmatic investments in education

WASHINGTON - February 02, 2015 -

Pres. Barack Obama today released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. NEA Pres. Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement on behalf of the Association’s nearly 3 million members.

“The smart and pragmatic priorities the president outlined in his budget are the right ones for American families. They will provide more economic opportunities for working- and middle-class families now and for future generations and move the country forward.

“We welcome his proposal to recalibrate the austerity-at-all-costs style of governing that has engulfed Washington for the past three years—an approach that has dragged down our economy and hurt students, educators, and families. Reversing the sequester cuts at a time of rising childhood poverty is not only right but necessary. More than 50 percent of the nation’s public school students now qualify to receive free- and reduced-priced meals. Nearly 16 million children in the United States – 20 percent of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. That is $23,850 a year for a family of four. America can and should do better. We will remain vigilant to make sure Congress doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past and attempt to balance the nation’s budget on the backs of students and working families.

“We also are encouraged that the president chose to shine a spotlight on education in his budget, in particular by requesting additional funds for early childhood education and two critical programs that serve low-income students and students with disabilities. Since taking office, President Obama has consistently called for investing in education. He knows what educators know: An investment in education is a direct investment in our students and our nation’s future. That’s why educators have for years called for funding increases to support programs that improve opportunities for all students. We are pleased the Obama administration is leaning in and investing much-needed resourced to help high-needs students in his latest budget.

“We applaud the president’s proposal to make college more affordable for more students, especially low-income students. Education has always been the gateway to success. Unfortunately, far too many students graduate with mountains of debt. At a time when post-secondary education has become even more important, students and their families are scrambling to pay for education.

“The president also makes an important budget request to help states and school districts audit and eliminate unnecessary standardized tests. We commend the president for recognizing the growing problem with unnecessary testing but the proposal doesn’t go far enough. After years of too much testing, we must reduce the federal emphasis on standardized tests that have helped corrupt the quality of the education received by children. This investment is timely as Congress gears up to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the cornerstone of the federal presence in K–12 education.

“The president’s budget is especially promising for working and middle-class families who must juggle important kitchen table issues. The budget expands child care benefits, increases the minimum wage, grants paid leave for more working parents, provides more child care tax credits, and gives more families a leg up to move into more solid economic footing.

“We look forward to working with lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle to put students and families first by enacting the president’s smart and pragmatic budget priorities. By working in a bipartisan manner, Congress has a unique opportunity to tackle the nation’s pressing matters, so that more working families have a fair shot at the American Dream.”

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The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823,