On Feb. 14 the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) sent an open letter to its members, urging them to address the so-called “fiscal cliff” spending cuts with their elected representatives online via 'valentine.'
Using Valentine's Day as a theme, AFT is spearheading a movement to prevent automatic cuts to programs that should remain to help strengthen and build America’s middle class.
'Congress must avert sequestration and develop instead a balanced approach that includes revenue increases....and does not damage the economy or middle class, or destroy investments in programs that help our economy grow, such as education....
'It is time to ask the wealthy to pay a little more. By closing tax loopholes, we could protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe. '
AFT claims that some of the most damaging effects a sequester could have on the middle class are:
• Title I education funds: Title I education funds would be eliminated for more than 2,700 schools, cutting support for nearly 1.2 million disadvantaged students. This funding reduction would put the jobs of approximately 10,000 teachers and aides at risk.
• Special education (IDEA): Cuts to special education funding would eliminate federal support for more than 7,200 teachers, aides and other staff who provide essential instruction and support to preschool and school-age students with disabilities.
• Early childhood education: About 70,000 young children would be kicked out of Head Start; 10,000 teachers’ jobs would be put at risk; and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff could be cut.
• Cuts to mental health programs: Up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated.
• Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children: WIC would be cut by $353 million, resulting in more than 600,000 low-income women, infants and children being dropped from the rolls.
AFT is urging every member to become an AFT e-Activist:
'Tell your members of Congress to have a heart when it comes to the middle class.
'Write to your elected officials now to wish them a Happy Valentines Day and demand they take action for the middle class.'