Trump suggested compromise to stop shutdown falls short
As the government shutdown enters its fifth week, Trump held a press conference yesterday where he attempted to offer a non-plan to end the shutdown. However, the compromise fell short—temporary fixes for our Dreamers and money for a permanent wall. Moreover, this was a false negotiation because he has not reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY). All this happened while the number of federal workers required to work without pay continues to grow. Last week alone, more than 50,000 workers were recalled to perform essential tasks ranging from processing tax refunds to ensuring our food is safe to eat, the Washington Post reported. In all, 800,000 federal workers are going without pay. Meanwhile, Congress cancelled this week’s recess and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested, in a letter to President Trump, postponing or submitting in writing the State of the Union address, planned for Jan. 29, due to security concerns. While the bulk of federal spending for schools is secure through September of this year, some college students and faculty fear that financial aid will be unavailable and critical research stalled. A rural North Carolina school district is cutting back school lunches to conserve dwindling funds. NEA president Lily Eskelsen García tweeted, “Make no mistake. This manufactured government shutdown is a monumental and historic failure to lead, and to compromise to address the nation’s priorities. The American public expects their elected leaders to perform the basic task of governing. Period.” Click here and tell members of Congress to end the shutdown. If you’ve already sent an email to Congress, click here to call Congress instead, especially Republican senators.
Proposed Title IX changes threaten equal access to education
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is pushing for changes in Title IX regulations that threaten progress in ensuring equal access to education for all students. A proposed rule, open for public comment until Jan. 30, would drastically scale back Title IX compliance requirements, dramatically narrow the definition of sexual harassment, and water down the likely standard of proof for evaluating claims. Even now, sexual harassment often goes unreported. The proposed rule sends the message that victims are not to be believed — which would further discourage students from coming forward — and creates perverse incentives for schools to shield harassing and abusive behaviors. Click here and urge the Department of Education to withdraw the entire proposed rule — for maximum effect, use your own words and include details from your own experience.
Bill introduced to establish RISE Award Program for ESPs
Congress may vote soon on H.R. 276, which directs the Secretary of Education to establish the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award Program for education support professionals (ESPs) who provide essential services to students from pre-K-to grade 12. They include paraeducators, clerical assistants, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, security professionals, nurses, and more. An integral part of the public education system, ESPs promote student achievement, ensure student safety, and help establish a good school climate. Click here and tell your representatives to support H.R. 276.
Bill introduced to end GPO and WEP, which unfairly reduce educators’ Social Security benefits
Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced the NEA-supported Social Security Fairness Act of 2019 (H.R. 141), which fully repeals the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) that deprive millions of educators and other hard-working Americans of Social Security benefits they have earned. The GPO reduces, by two-thirds, the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people not covered by Social Security themselves — for example, an educator with a pension of $900 per month and a spouse covered by Social Security loses $600 per month, her entire Social Security benefit. The WEP reduces, by up to 50 percent, the Social Security retirement, disability, spousal, or survivor benefits of people who work in jobs covered by Social Security and jobs NOT covered by Social Security over the course of their careers
Cheers and Jeers
U.S. House of Representatives for voting nearly unanimously to endorse a resolution (H. Res. 41) rejecting white nationalism and white supremacy as “hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States” — a response to inflammatory remarks by Representative Steve King (R-IA)
Senate Judiciary Committee members Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker, (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) for questioning attorney general nominee William Barr on his record and views on voting rights, LGBTQ issues, racial disparities in the criminal justice system, immigration, and civil rights
Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) for introducing the Social Security Fairness Act of 2019 (H.R. 141), which repeals GPO and WEP
Senators Doug Jones (D-AL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) for their letter to education stakeholders and policy experts about addressing racial disparities in student debt
Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for introducing the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 in 2024, indexes future minimum wage increases to wage growth, and phases out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities
Representatives Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) for introducing a bipartisan resolution (H. Res. 58) that supports the goal of increasing public school teacher pay and public education funding
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for continuing to block votes on bipartisan House-passed bills that would reopen the government and provide disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, the California wildfires, and other natural disasters