Nearly 2 million education jobs—one-fifth of the public education workforce—could be lost if the Senate fails to act soon to close growing state and local budget gaps caused by COVID-19, a new NEA analysis and state-by-state breakdown warned. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 500,000 public education jobs have already been lost. By comparison, 300,000 education jobs were lost during the Great Recession.
NEA also cautioned that financially struggling states and localities need federal help to make the costly changes necessary to reopen schools safely. Those changes include modifying classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses to permit social distancing; intensive instruction and support for students traumatized by the impact of the coronavirus on their families and communities; providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for students and educators; and more.
“The American economy cannot recover if schools can’t reopen, and we cannot properly reopen schools if funding is slashed and students don’t have what they need to be safe, learn, and succeed,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) maintains wait-and-see is the best approach. He refuses to take up the HEROES Act, passed by the House a month ago, which would provide $915 billion in direct relief for state and local governments that can be used to pay vital workers such as educators and $90 billion in additional education funding that could save more than 800,000 education jobs.
NEA’s priorities for the next coronavirus package include at least $175 billion to stabilize education funding, at least $4 billion to equip students with hot spots and devices to help narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap, at least $56 million in directed funding for personal protective equipment, relief for student loan borrowers, and at least $4 billion to protect voting rights and make voting by mail more widely available. LEARN MORE
Email your senators and tell them to take action to reopen schools safely and save education jobs.