Don’t rob military kids to build ‘the wall’
Funds earmarked for public schools and daycare centers serving military families could be used instead to erect barriers on our southern border. At President Trump’s direction, the Department of Defense is diverting $3.6 billion from projects approved by Congress to construction of his border wall, which Mexico was supposed to pay for. Those projects include long-overdue renovations and repairs at a middle school at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; an elementary school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and a child development center at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, among others. Only Congress—after hearing from you!—can halt the effort to rob military kids of the support they deserve. Tell your representatives to speak out and oppose this travesty. TAKE ACTION
Put rural schools on a firm financial footing
NEA board member Karen Schuett, a teacher in Bakersfield, California, flew to Washington last week to join NEA partners and allies in urging Congress to renew the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Community Self-Determination Act. First enacted in 2000, the law supports public education and community services in over 4,400 schools in 770 rural counties located near national forests. But funding has been inconsistent for the last three years—the law expired at the end of 2018. As a result, rural areas across the country are facing budgetary shortfalls that could force big cuts in public education and other essential community services. Tell your representatives to put the SRS program on a firm financial footing. TAKE ACTION
NEA leaders featured at CHCI and CBCF events
All three NEA officers participated in the 2019 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute leadership conference and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation annual legislative conference last week. During a panel discussion of immigration, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said, “In the United States, our children are living in fear of being separated from their parents. That’s not who we were supposed to be. This is not who we must be.” NEA Vice President Becky Pringle said, “[O]ur black boys—and now increasingly our black girls—are being pushed out of our schools. They are finding themselves in that school to prison pipeline. We as educators must disrupt it.” NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss addressed the connection between climate justice and education justice. “Hear me now!” she said. “Climate change is not only about recycling and no more plastic straws… [It] directly impacts communities of color in a significant way.”
Cheers and Jeers
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Joe Courtney (D-CT), John Garamendi (D-CA), and Jason Crow (D-CO) wrote a letter expressing strong concerns with Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) policies that eliminate teaching positions and require teachers to work more unpaid hours. The Federal Education Association, an NEA affiliate, represents educators employed by DoDEA at 164 public schools serving more than 73,000 students from military families in the United States and overseas.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), joined by Reps. Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), introduced the Teacher Diversity and Retention Act (H.R. 4288) to help combat our nationwide teacher shortage by increasing recruitment of diverse teachers and improving teacher training and retention programs.
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) introduced the Pell Grant Restoration Act (H.R. 4298) to restore eligibility to students who attended institutions of higher education that closed due to fraudulent violations of the law.
Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Josh Harder (D-CA) introduced the Enhanced Access To SNAP (EATS) Act (H.R. 4297) to address the growing crisis of food insecurity among college students across the country. The bill would amend the Food and Nutrition Act to include “attending an institution of higher education” as a form of qualification.