America spends more on public schools than any part of our infrastructure except roads and highways. Our 100,000 public school buildings house more than 50 million students and educators. Yet many of those buildings are poorly equipped or in poor physical condition—so poor it undermines student learning.
President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, released March 31, includes $100 billion to modernize K-12 public school facilities, $12 billion to upgrade the community college infrastructure, and $25 billion to improve child care facilities—a good start that leaves room for further improvement and increased investment.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the best estimates indicate an annual funding gap of at least $38 billion for public school facilities. And no wonder: half our school buildings are more than 50 years old. More than 40 percent had issues with their HVAC systems even before the pandemic. Many public schools, especially in rural areas, still do not have access to high-speed broadband sufficient for digital learning.
Modernizing public schools is an investment in our nation’s future—the best investment we can make. NEA supports the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (S. 96/H.R. 604), which would create a $100 billion grant program and $30 billion tax-credit bond program targeting high-poverty schools whose facilities pose health and safety risks to students and staff. It would also restore Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) that can be used to finance school renovations, repairs, and investments in technology at below-market rates—sometimes, as low as zero.
Email your senators and representative and urge them to cosponsor the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act.