By Anita Gibson, AEA President
The House Ways and Means Education Committee, which happens to be Republican – dominated, passed their version of the 2015 Education Trust Fund Budget by a vote of 10-4. No surprise.
The proposed budget does not include a pay raise or a one percent bonus for education employees. No surprise.
The committee’s proposed budget does not include a COLA for education retirees. No surprise.
It does not fully fund the line item request for education employees’ health insurance. No surprise.
All attempts to amend the budget to include a raise, COLA and full funding for PEEHIP were rejected. No surprise.
The governor has stated he will veto the budget if it does not include a raise for education employees and full funding for PEEHIP. No surprise.
Rumors are that the Legislature will override his veto, and I guess only time will tell if this will happen or not.
Since the special session in December, 2010, we have witnessed the raping and pillage of our public schools as funding has been slashed repeatedly. The intent of numerous bills passed by the Legislature has been to cripple the Alabama Education Association and cause harm to our members and our profession. We will continue to see the impact of these actions as time goes by. With a continued loss in wages and benefits, and the continued degradation of our profession, fewer and fewer will follow their dreams and calling to become education employees. They will be forced to turn to the private sector for jobs. As more and more education employees are forced to work two and three jobs in order to provide for their families they will be forced to leave their chosen profession and seek employment outside the field of education. This loss of dedicated, caring individuals will have a negative impact on the children in our public schools whose lives only they could have touched.
While it may appear they have been successful in many of their attempts to harm you as a public education employee, and to change our public education system to a for profit business, the real impact of their actions will be felt by the innocent children in Alabama’s public schools. The partial funding or lack of funding for the immediate needs in our public schools is having a devastating impact on the education opportunities of this generation of children.
There is a way to avoid further damage to our public education system, future generations of children, and salvage the education of this generation of students. We can also begin to repair the damage inflicted upon our profession. In order to do this we must elect legislators who value our public education system, and respect all present, previous, and future education employees.
What are you prepared to do for your profession and the children in our public schools? The choice is yours to make.