House votes to increase education funding by billions of dollars
By a 226-203 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House passed a FY2020 funding bill that includes several billion dollars in increases for early childhood, K-12, and higher education initiatives. Both Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) get $1 billion more than they now receive. The bill increases Title II funding by $500 million, which will help reduce class sizes and provide professional development for educators. Full-service community schools get $40 million—more than double the amount they now receive. Other provisions help make higher education more affordable for students and families, including a $150 increase in the maximum Pell grant. Now, the Senate needs to act to support our students. Email your senators and tell them to increase education funding.
Support the Voting Rights Advancement Act
Wednesday, June 27 is the sixth anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder, the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that gutted key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the landmark law that removed barriers to political participation for millions of racial, ethnic, and language minority citizens. Before Shelby, states and localities with a history of discriminatory practices had to get federal approval before changing their voting laws. In recent years, the Brennan Center for Justice reports, 25 states have imposed new restrictions ranging from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to making it harder to register to vote. All week, all across the country, events will be held to build support for legislation to restore federal protections against voter discrimination. Email your members of Congress and tell them to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019.
Fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created to encourage college graduates to pursue careers in public service, such as education. If educators, first responders, social workers, and other public servants make 10 years’ worth of qualified monthly payments on their federal student loans, they can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. But that’s not happening, because the program is broken. Fewer than 1 percent of eligible public servants who apply receive the loan forgiveness they were promised. Read some of their stories here. We need to fix the PSLF program now! Email your members of Congress and tell them to support the What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019 (S. 1203/H.R. 2441).
Cheers and Jeers
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) reintroduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act (S. 1779/H.R. 3214) to ensure the gun industry is not shielded from liability if it is negligent or disregards public safety.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) introduced the bipartisan Anti-Lunch Shaming Act (S. 1119/H.R. 2311) with 13 cosponsors in the Senate and 26 cosponsors in the House to prevent shaming students who cannot afford to pay for their meals.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the No Shame at School Act (H.R. 3366) with 20 cosponsors to prevent shaming students who cannot afford to pay for their meals, improve the process of certifying children eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and provide retroactive funding for children deemed eligible during the school year.
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (H.R. 3281) with 59 cosponsors to help fight voter suppression.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) introduced the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act (S. 1878/H.R. 3315), which would create a network of federally funded but locally run child care centers around the country and ensure that no family spends more than 7 percent of its annual income on child care. “I applaud the work by Senator Warren and Representative Haaland to ensure that every child, regardless of background or social status, has equal access to the high-quality, affordable child care and education opportunities that lay the foundation for our children’s success in school and in life,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) for successfully offering an amendment to the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would ensure Federal Education Association members who qualify for reimbursement for moving expenses are also reimbursed for taxes on that money.