Schools and coronavirus: what you need to know
Congress took quick, bipartisan action to address the public health emergency posed by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. An $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations package passed the House 415-2, and the Senate 96-1. In a letter to lawmakers, NEA underscored the need to protect educators, education support professionals, and other public-facing workers. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to outline a coronavirus preparedness plan for students of all ages.
What can you do? Preparation and handwashing are key, but there are the other things you should consider as well. Learn more
DeVos forced to backtrack on cuts to rural schools
In the face of a bipartisan outcry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos retreated from a bookkeeping change that would have caused more than 800 rural, low-income schools to lose critical funding from the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). The change entailed how districts report the number of students living in poverty. For the last 17 years, REAP payments have been based on the number of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. DeVos prohibited that approach and decreed that schools must use census data instead, claiming the law requires it. She agreed to maintain the status quo for at least a year after receiving a strongly worded letter signed by 21 senators from both parties, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Take the pledge to fire Betsy DeVos.
$100 billion for schools added to infrastructure package
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), NEA member and former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and national education leaders for a press event about adding the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (S. 266/H.R. 865) to House Democrats’ Moving Forward infrastructure framework. The bill makes a $100 billion investment in repairing and improving the physical and digital infrastructure of public schools across America. “The most important investment a country can make is in the education of our children,” Pelosi said. Learn more
Cheers and Jeers
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced bipartisan resolutions in their respective chambers designating March 2, 2020, Read Across America Day.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jon Tester (D-MT) led the letter that got Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to maintain the current approach to calculating REAP payments for a year.
“Don’t give me a block grant,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said at a HELP Committee hearing on the Trump/DeVos 2021 budget proposal.
Asked why the Trump/DeVos 2021 budget proposal eliminates public service loan forgiveness, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos responded, “The administration feels that incentivizing one type of job or one type of work over another isn’t called for.”