Dreamer Bill Advances to the House Floor
This week, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, marking the first time since 2013 that legislation for Dreamers has advanced. The bill provides a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2.7 million Dreamers (those brought to the U.S. as minors), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Among those who would benefit from passage of this legislation are students in our classrooms and their family members, friends and colleagues in our communities, and an estimated 37,000 educators working in public schools across the nation. NEA strongly supports H.R. 6 because it is far past time for Dreamers, DACA recipients, and TPS holders to have the certainty they deserve, and that this legislation provides. “At the heart of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 is the core American principle of welcoming immigrants and their many talents and contributions—including 37,000 aspiring Americans who are working as educators in our classrooms,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “What is at stake are their dreams and aspirations.” The bill will advance to the House floor for a vote as soon as the first week of June, after Congress returns from recess. Email your representative and urge their support for H.R. 6, or if you have already sent an email, please call your representative.
Education Funding Bill Advances to House Floor
The FY2020 education funding bill will advance to the U.S. House floor and be taken up for a vote as soon as the second week of June. The bill would increase the federal investment in education by 6 percent. Congress continues to flatly reject Betsy DeVos’s proposed deep cuts in education by boosting education funding. Among NEA’s priorities, the bill increases Title I funds by $1 billion, IDEA by $1.07 billion, and more than doubles, to $40 million, funding for full-service community schools. “With historic investments in programs that provide opportunities for millions of people—from early childhood education, child care, and public schools to workforce training and apprenticeship programs—we ensure our children and all workers can get the education and skills they need to support themselves and their families,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro. Click on the take action button to email your representative and urge support for the education funding bill.
Legislation Would Expand School-based Mental Health Services
NEA member Melodie Henderson, a special education teacher at Manchester High School in Chesterfield, VA, spoke at a May 22 legislative briefing on why students need mental health services in schools. The briefing highlighted the Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2019 (H.R. 1109/S. 1122), which would provide $200 million in competitive grants for schools to partner with local mental health professionals in offering school-based comprehensive mental health programs. Henderson, whose students have emotional and behavioral challenges, said behaviors that sometimes present as belligerence, defiance, or disengagement often indicate a mental illness or emotional disorder. Educators need additional professional development and other resources to assist them in recognizing and addressing these issues, she said. The way to empower students “is to provide them with a safe environment to seek help and support in their schools and communities,” Henderson added. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Estimates are that at least 10 million students age 13 to 18 need professional help because of a mental health condition. Suicide rates have doubled among Americans age 10 to 14 in the last 20 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Click on the take action button to urge members of Congress to support mental health services.
Cheers and Jeers
Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Will Hurd (R-TX), John Katko (R-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Greg Walden (R-OR) for crossing party lines to vote for the Equality Act on May 17.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) for introducing the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act of 2019 (S. 1643) to provide financial certainty and stability in funding for schools and other vital services in rural counties.
Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment for hosting a May 22 hearing entitled, “Engines of Economic Mobility: The Critical Role of Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions in Preparing Students for Success.”
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) for emphasizing during the May 22 House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment hearing that the federal role in education, particularly in “promoting equity and safeguarding opportunities,” is important.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), ranking member of the Education & Labor Committee, for saying during the May 22 House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment hearing that there is no federal role in education.