Tell your members of Congress to cosponsor the Keep Our PACT Act
The Keep Our PACT Act, introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) last Thursday, would ensure that education is a priority in the federal budget. Earlier that week, NEA member Betsy Perry, a Nationally Board- certified special education teacher in a Title I school in Maryland, participated in a briefing on the bill. The Keep Our PACT Act creates a mandatory 10-year path to fully funding both Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If Title I were fully funded, every high-poverty school in America could provide physical and mental health services for every student, including dental and vision care. When IDEA was first passed, Congress promised to pay 40% of the excess costs of special education services, but has never come close—the federal share is now less than 14%. For more than 50 years, the United States has claimed to provide an equal public education for all our students. Now is the time to fulfill that promise! Click here and tell your senators to cosponsor the Keep Our PACT Act.
House to vote on Dream Act after Easter recess
After the Easter recess, the House is expected to vote on the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6). The bill already has 227 cosponsors—enough to guarantee passage. Progress is slower in the Senate, where Republicans are in the majority. The Senate version consists of two bills: 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—a group that includes nearly 40,000 educators, the Migration Policy Institute estimates. Click here and tell your representatives to support H.R. 6, S. 874, and S. 879.
House Democrats hold Betsy DeVos accountable
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos squirmed under sharp questioning at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing. Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) asked whether she allows federal funds earmarked for other purposes to be used to arm educators. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) explored ties to special interest groups that use scare tactics to discourage teachers from joining unions. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) grilled DeVos about the Department of Education’s many attempts to undermine the gainful employment rule created to hold for-profit colleges and universities accountable. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), 2016 National Teacher of the Year, fervently tried to get DeVos’ to admit she has the authority to prohibit the use of federal funds to purchase firearms or train teachers to use them—check out the video and see for yourself!
Cheers and Jeers
Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos accountable at their April 10 hearing, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.”
Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) officially unveiled the Working Families Tax Relief Act, which would cut taxes for workers and families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) highlighted the need to provide short-term and permanent funding for the expired Secure Rural Schools program during hearings on natural resources issues.
Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the What You Can Do For Your Country Act to close loopholes and improve administration of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.