|May 3, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (NEA) INVITES FALEOMAVAEGA TO BE KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER OBSERVANCE|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that the National Education Association (NEA) invited him
to be the keynote speaker at the NEA’s annual Asian and Pacific Islander
Observance. The Observance was held during the NEA’s Board of Directors
meeting on Saturday May 3, 2003.
“The National Education Association (NEA) was founded in 1857 to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Today, the NEA is the nation’s leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education.”
“The NEA has 2.7 million members who work at every level of education, from pre-school to university. The NEA also has chapters and affiliates in every state and representation at the local, state and national level.”
“As I noted in my speech, I am honored and humbled that the NEA Board of Directors invited me to be their keynote speaker. Like the NEA, I have concerns about the state of public education and the President’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The truth of the matter is Congress wanted to fund education at a higher level than what President Bush proposed. But President Bush cut funding for education and states are now facing a serious crisis,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Put another way, President Bush cut funding by $8 billion of its authorized amount and the President has proposed 2004 funding at $11 billion below the authorized amount that Congress wants to provide. Title I funding, which helps disadvantaged students, may be under-funded by $6 billion.”
“This is why I believe it is important to once again explain how education funding works. The average state gets only $600 per student in federal aid. Put another way, states have to come up with their own money to pay for the costs of education. Some states come up with $5,400 per student to add to the $600 in federal aid and this then equates to $6,000 per student. But let us be clear about these numbers. This is not $6,000 in federal aid. Rather, this is a combination of $5,400 in state funding + $600 in federal aid,” Faleomavaega said.
“In other words, states get their
funding by taxing local businesses, wealthy individuals and property owners.
By collecting local taxes, most states pay approximately 90% of the costs
associated with educating their children. Although I did not mention
this in my speech, I continue to be thankful that funding for American
Samoa is just the opposite. I am thankful that the federal government
does NOT make us pay 90% of our costs. Instead, the federal government
gives American Samoa almost $2,800 per student in federal aid or more federal
aid on a per student basis than any other state or territory.”
“No child should be left behind and this is why I am hopeful that Congress will continue to speak out against further cuts to education. We cannot afford to let the President give tax breaks to the rich while cutting funding for education. Any way you put it, education is the key to opportunity and success and every child deserves nothing less than equal opportunity.”
“At this time, I want to thank the National Education Association and its Board of Directors, including Reg Weaver, President, Dennis Van Roekel, Vice President, Lily Eskelsen, Secretary-Treasurer and Jean Dobashi, Chair of the NEA Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus. I also want to thank the more than 200 NEA Board members who were in attendance at today’s annual Asian and Pacific Islander Observance. I thank them for the opportunity I had to speak about the contributions our community has made to building and preserving the ideals of democracy. I also shared my thoughts about how our nation needs to be fully committed to providing equal learning opportunities for all students, including Asian and Pacific Americans.”
“Mostly, I thought about American Samoa and how thankful I am to have been born in Vailoatai Village. I thought about what a blessing it is for you and me to be part of a culture that is more than 3,000 years old. Regardless of the challenges we face, we are Samoan. We are family and together we will always make a difference,” the Congressman concluded.
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