The Ed Show | May 25, 2010
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, a quality public education for our children may be the next casualty of this recession. States are slashing education budgets. It`s a fact everywhere. And 300,000 teachers are expected to be laid off. The Obama administration is pushing a 23 billion dollar bailout bill to help states avoid disaster. It passed the House . The Senate has yet to act on the bill. But cash-strapped school districts need help right now. Joining me now is Randi Weingarten , the president of the American Federation of Teachers . What kind of bailout are we talking about? Once the money`s gone, wouldn`t we be back to square one on trying to save teachers?
RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Well, look, Ed , you know, we`re in an emergency situation right now. And so we need that lifeline, just like we had that lifeline last year.
SCHULTZ: Well, the lifeline last year, OK, that didn`t lead to anything, because you got how many thousands of teachers that are going to be losing their jobs?
WEINGARTEN: So what happened -- what happened last year, Ed , was that with the stimulus bill, over a quarter million teachers kept their jobs. The young people that we had coming into the profession, the experienced people that we need in the profession, but more important than my members keeping their jobs is what it does in terms of kids. What happens is that kids don`t get to decide if they`re born in times of prosperity or in times of challenge. They don`t get a pause button on their education. So what we`re seeing now is that because the ravages of the recession are still hitting main street, what we`re seeing is that schools are really hurting. So summer schools are being cut right now. There`s four- day school weeks instead of five- day school weeks. We`re seeing an expectation of class sizes skyrocket next year.
SCHULTZ: We`re going backwards?
WEINGARTEN: We`re going backwards. This is at the very same time as we know we need to keep our foot on the accelerator of reform, while these budget cuts are devastating to not --
SCHULTZ: Republicans are saying this is going to add to the deficit, Randi . And of course Senator Harkin has proposed this bailout bill and says if we don`t have it, we`re going to be in big trouble. How are you going to get this in good favor in the Congress ?
WEINGARTEN: You know, this is what I don`t get. I hear people talk about how we have to invest in the future, and how we have to make sure this country is safe for our grandchildren. Right now, we`re talking about our children being devastated by budget cuts. I`ve watched it. I grew up around New York City in the 1970s , and I saw us lose a generation of kids. We are passionate about this because we don`t want to lose a generation of kids.
SCHULTZ: I agree.
WEINGARTEN: The teachers will get their jobs back ultimately. The issue becomes how to make sure that the kids don`t lose a year of schooling. That`s why we`re wearing these pink hearts, not pink buttons. We`ll be with Congressman Obey tomorrow trying to get this bill through on the House floor.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Randi Weingarten . Appreciate