Don’t steal from military families to fund border wall
The congressional recess is an opportunity to meet with representatives and let them know what you think of President Trump’s scheme to divert money from kids from military families to building the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. At the president’s direction, the Department of Defense is shifting $3.6 billion from projects approved by Congress to wall construction—a maneuver that will rob schools and childcare facilities on military bases of nearly half a billion dollars. Those projects include refurbishing a severely overcrowded middle school at Fort Campbell, Ky., and remediating hazardous mold at the Child Development Center at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Schools for military families in Puerto Rico, Italy, Okinawa, and Germany are also affected. Military families shouldn’t have to sacrifice their children’s education to fund Trump’s wall, an issue NEA board members raised when they lobbied on Capitol Hill last week. 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
H.R. 4540 begins to fix problems caused by Social Security’s WEP
Nearly 2 million retired educators and other public employees would benefit from fixes to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) made by the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 4540), introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) on Sept. 27. Among those subject to the WEP, current retirees would get an extra $150 a month and future retireesan average of $75 a month. Moreover, the bill includes a guarantee that no one would get less than the amount provided under current law. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of people who work in jobs covered by Social Security and jobs NOT covered by Social Security over the course of their careers—for example, educators compelled to take part-time or summer jobs to make ends meet. After years of congressional inaction, this bill is a step in the right direction. NEA continues to push for full repeal of the WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people not covered by Social Security themselves. Tell your representative to support H.R. 4540. TAKE ACTION
Senate committee chairman’s higher education bill graded “incomplete”
The Student Aid Improvement Act (S. 2557), introduced Sept. 26 by HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), falls short of NEA’s goals for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that governs student-aid programs, federal aid to colleges, oversight of teacher preparation programs, and more. “Despite tackling a few areas where reform is needed, the bill is a far cry from the comprehensive reauthorization needed to provide all students with an opportunity to obtain an affordable and equitable higher education,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. Key areas that S. 2557 fails to address include loan forgiveness for public service, many student aid programs, teacher preparation, and the 90/10 rule that caps the percentage of revenue for-profit schools can receive from federal financial aid sources—all areas it is essential to address in a reauthorization that reflects the perspective of students and educators. The House version of HEA reauthorization will be released soon. In the meantime, weigh in with senators on what to include in the next HEA. TAKE ACTION
Cheers and Jeers
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced the Native American Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4586) to create a voucher program for tribal students. The bill would rob the public schools attended by the vast majority of students of funding and resources.