Big victory! Senate votes unanimously to create national ESP award
Thanks to the advocacy of NEA’s members and board of directors, the Senate joined the House in voting to create a national award for ESPs. Support was overwhelming in both chambers: the vote was unanimous in the Senate and 387-19 in the House. The measure directs the Secretary of Education to establish the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award Program for ESPs in pre-K-to grade 12: paraeducators, clerical assistants, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, security professionals, nurses, and more. In the words of NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, “This long overdue bill appropriately respects and rightly acknowledges the hard work, dedication, skills and expertise of our ESPs.” The bill creating the national ESP award now goes to the president to be signed into law.
Senate version of Dream and Promise Act introduced
The Senate version of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), introduced March 26, consists of two bills. Both provide legal status and a path to citizenship: the Dream Act (S. 874) for people brought to this country as minors and the SECURE Act (S. 879) for people allowed to remain here for humanitarian reasons under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that nearly 40,000 educators could benefit. H.R. 6 has 225 cosponsors, enough to guarantee passage in the House, which is expected sometime after the April recess. Click here and tell your representatives to support H.R. 6, S. 874, and S. 879.
Tell your representatives to cosponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act
The bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act, introduced this week in both the Senate and the House, would fulfill the promise Congress made in 1975 when it passed the Individuals with Disabilites in Education Act: to pay 40% of special education costs. Currently, the federal government pays less than 14% of those costs. The IDEA Full Funding Act would increase the federal contribution over a 10-year period until it reaches the 40% level in 2029. Nearly 7 million students receive special education services—13% of all public school students. Click here and tell your representatives to support the IDEA Full Funding Act.
Cheers and Jeers
232 members of the House, Democrat and Republican, who voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Dream Act (S. 874) to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for people brought to this country as minors who know no other country as home.
Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the SECURE Act (S. 879) to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for people in the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), John Katko (R-NY), David McKinley (R-WV), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Dean Phillips (D-MN), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act.
Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) introduced the Universal Full-Day Kindergarten Act, the first-ever House bill to take steps toward providing universal access to full-day kindergarten.
Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations subcommittee chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), full committee chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) forcefully challenged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a hearing on her budget proposal, that DeLauro called “cruel” and “reckless.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos failed to take responsibility for her proposal to eliminate all funding for the Special Olympics, including the Unified Champion Schools program in nearly 6,500 schools that promotes inclusion and helps prevent bullying. After an outcry from both parties, the president and DeVos rescinded their call, suggesting they did not support the cut even though it has been in the DeVos budget plan for three consecutive years.