Teachers Speak Up Again

Nearly a month ago, I sat down and wrote a letter to my federal representatives in Congress. I received one reply from one of my state Senators. You can read the whole letter at the bottom of the post if you'd like to. I want to pick out a couple of things, and then share my response (emphasis is mine).

Although the broad package of spending cuts known as sequestration was delayed until March 1, 2013, Congress failed to reach an agreement to replace the across-the-board cut with a thoughtful deficit reduction plan, and cuts have gone into place. These cuts are expected to have significant impact on all aspects of our economy and national security, and reduce critical funding for education, people with disabilities, and our seniors. While I strongly believe we must cut government spending, I also believe we must do so in a balanced and responsible way. The American people deserve a Congress that is willing to work together to get things done. Discussions about sequestration should not be about assigning blame and winning political fights--they should be focused on finding an alternative both parties can agree to. We need to do what is right for our country and get our fiscal house in order. As Congress works to address sequestration and to develop a thoughtful deficit reduction plan, I remain committed to working with both parties to find ways to significantly reduce spending, close unnecessary tax loopholes, and better balance the budget.

Two things stand out: 1) This is a prime example of non-speech. If you're an English teacher and need an example, please feel free to use this. 2) He didn't address the points in my letter, nor did he give any example of how he will step up and lead the process.

We're now seeing a wave of budget cuts slamming educational programs across the country. This week, Chicago schools announced they will close 54 public schools,, sending 30,000 (mostly poor) students to new districts in order to save 540 million dollars over 10 year. Oh, and Rham announced this while on a ski vacation. Nice. Double nice: They're opening 60 new charter schools over 5 years.

NASA has also cancelled major educational outreach programs due to budget cuts.

Long story short, education is being used to balance the budget. Teachers, please do not sit by and watch. Write. Call. March. Get students involved. Collectively, we can begin to make a major difference, but we all have to speak up.


Entire letter: Dear Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about sequestration and the fiscal challenges facing our nation.

In August 2011, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25). The legislation was intended to raise the current debt limit to avoid immediate default, while requiring Congress to reduce the deficit by roughly $2 trillion over the next ten years. In order to ensure that Congress fulfilled its obligation to cut spending, the law stipulated that if Congress failed to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion by January 15, 2012, a process known as sequestration--an across-the-board spending reduction--would take effect. In fact, at the time, the authors of the legislation argued that the impact of sequestration on the economy would be so devastating that Congress would have no choice but to develop a bipartisan cost reduction plan.

Although the broad package of spending cuts known as sequestration was delayed until March 1, 2013, Congress failed to reach an agreement to replace the across-the-board cut with a thoughtful deficit reduction plan, and cuts have gone into place. These cuts are expected to have significant impact on all aspects of our economy and national security, and reduce critical funding for education, people with disabilities, and our seniors. While I strongly believe we must cut government spending, I also believe we must do so in a balanced and responsible way.

The American people deserve a Congress that is willing to work together to get things done. Discussions about sequestration should not be about assigning blame and winning political fights--they should be focused on finding an alternative both parties can agree to. We need to do what is right for our country and get our fiscal house in order. As Congress works to address sequestration and to develop a thoughtful deficit reduction plan, I remain committed to working with both parties to find ways to significantly reduce spending, close unnecessary tax loopholes, and better balance the budget.

It is a privilege to represent you and all Hoosiers in the U.S. Senate. Your continued correspondence is welcome and helps me to better represent our state. I encourage you to write, call, or email if my office can ever be of assistance. You can also check out my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter by visiting my website.


My response:

Dear _________________________,

Thank you for taking time to respond to my initial letter. I understand that you are a very busy individual, but I am disappointed that none of the concerns I raised were seriously addressed. In the time since my last letter, Chicago, along with other cities, has decided to close more that 50 public elementary schools due to budget deficits, partially due to the sequestration of federal education funds. Similarly, NASA has also announced the cancellation of science education initiatives that made major differences in the lives of students.

I am frustrated and discouraged that education has become the go-to solution for solving budget shortfalls. The double-speak coming from Washington is maddening as a citizen, especially for teachers. Congress and the President both talk about raising educational standards in this country, but then all we see are more and more budget cuts and curriculum restrictions placed on schools.

I want to encourage you and challenge you to become a voice for teachers in America. We feel discouraged and beaten down. We feel forgotten, and it is showing to our students. Please, Senator, give us a voice in Washington that we've been missing for so long.

Sincerely, Brian E. Bennett South Bend, IN

One thought on “Teachers Speak Up Again

  1. Hannah Dickerson says:

    Mr. Bennett,
    I think it is great that this representative took the time to write a response to you. Therefore, I do not find it so great that he did not address anything you were concerned with. I wish he would step up and do something about the many issues we are having. Education should not be used to balance a budget. Those poor children in Chicago are having to move schools because of it. It is very unfair. I think teachers should all be writing to our representatives about this matter. I know I am. Thanks for sharing your response with us.

    Hannah Dickerson
    EDM310 Student
    University of South Alabama

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