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EdAction in Congress June 14, 2020

NEA warns COVID-19 could lead to loss of up to 2 million education jobs

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 TAKE ACTION


Congress contemplates legislation to end police brutality

The renewed—and long overdue—push for racial justice sparked by George Floyd’s death is spurring congressional action. This week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in preparation for marking up the Justice in Policing Act introduced by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY); Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the measure in their chamber.

NEA supports the Justice in Policing Act, which calls for an end to no-knock warrants, using force only as a last resort, mandatory de-escalation training for police, and prohibiting potentially fatal maneuvers like the one that killed George Floyd, along with racial and religious profiling. It also calls for an end to the transfer of military weapons to state and local police agencies and creating a national public registry of misconduct by law enforcement officers to inform hiring decisions. This bill is but the first step in much-needed reform of the many practices and policies undermining the push for racial justice. TAKE ACTION


Cheers and Jeers

USDA is extending a nationwide waiver that allows school meal programs to serve free meals to all students, not just those living in low-income areas, for the rest of the summer. The waiver is the latest in a series of similar actions to help ensure children do not go hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic advocated by NEA and our partners.

Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote an op-ed urging their colleagues to vote against the nomination of Justin Walker to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because he supports throwing out the Affordable Care Act and stripping tens of millions of Americans of their health coverage.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Pandemic Service Award Act, which would create a GI-Bill style benefits program for healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

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