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Biden’s infrastructure plan is a good start for schools; Congress can improve it

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.

19 responses to “Biden’s infrastructure plan is a good start for schools; Congress can improve it

  1. This pandemic should have opened people’s eyes to the fact that teaching is one of the hardest, most time consuming jobs, yet the most important since the youth are our next generation of leaders.

    Rather than spending enormous amounts on buildings how about you spend that money to hire more teachers! Teachers and students NEED smaller class sizes so students can actually get individualized help that they need. Clearly parents are not able to or just won’t take the time to teach their children. 80% or more begged for schools to take their kids back! If parents cannot help their two or three children follow directions to complete online assignments then something is definitely wrong with society making one teacher try to teach classes of 30+ students.

  2. I am impressed with these responses. May I add my own statement? If we want our students to be ready for the 21st Century(and it is by the way already under way) all teachers of History and Social Studies must at least acknowledge that the history of our world was/is/and will always be a gathering of all races,experiences,ideas and events which are good and not so good,tragic,hateful to many specific groups of human beings past and present along with justice delivered plus laws and rules that continue to create a better world for all of us. This earth that we live on has crumbling buildings that were not made to last,flawed bridges and transportation systems that have endangered many lives world-wide. And with many healthcare systems that are being pushed so to deliver excellent care one wonders just how long it will take to create better ways to deliver good care for all included.

    I feel that this can be accomplished. We must begin finally admit that everyone matters including all children and their families along with all educators,staff,school healthcare personnel plus student teachers. These special groups need to be granted seats at the table world-wide and included in vital decisions for growth and survival. Finally all of us living here on earth need to be able to continue to grow,thrive,become healthy and employable so that all people living here can indeed continue to grow and learn from each other.

  3. I am impressed with these responses. May I add my own statement? If we want our students to be ready for the 21st Century(and it is by the way already under way) all teachers of History and Social Studies must at least acknowledge the the history of our world was/is/and will always be a gathering of all races,experiences,ideas and events which are good and not so good,tragic,hateful to many specific groups of human beings along with justice plus laws and rules that continue to create a better world for all of us. This earth that we live on has crumbling buildings that were not made to last,flawed bridges and transportation systems that have endangered many lives world-wide and many healthcare systems that are being pushed so hard that one wonders just how long it will take to create better ways to deliver care for all included.

    I feel that this can be accomplished. We must begin finally admit that everyone matters including all children and their families along with all educators,staff,school healthcare personnel plus student teachers. These special groups need to be granted seats at the table world-wide and included in vital decisions for growth and survival. Finally all of us living here on earth need to be able to continue to grow,thrive,become healthy and employable so that all people living here can indeed continue to grow and learn from each other.

  4. There is an old saying; “You have to spend money to make money”. This is an investment for the future.

    1. Hear, hear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. While I support rebuilding schools which are needed in their communities, I know too much effort and money are poured into decades-old, unsuitable and surplus campuses. My own school district in Austin, TX seems unwilling to consolidate schools despite continuing enrollment decline. Instead, opposition from some supporters of those schools deters the school board from taking necessary action, and so money that could be spent on education is instead spent on unnecessary bricks and mortar, outdated plumbing and HVAC systems, etc. Half-empty schools continue beyond reason and need. We cannot and should not preserve and maintain every existing school building.

  6. My son’s school is a beautiful historic building. When our district stupidly decided to offer in person instruction simultaneously with virtual instruction teachers were told to open windows when possible due to COVID germs and ancient HVAC systems.

    Windows were literally falling out of the walls onto the floor. Not the glass, the entire window.

    Prior to schools opening, our city experienced days of riots and fires. Windows were broken. That was probably the first time fresh air entered that building in 100 years. Some windows are still boarded up.

    This is the United States of America. My son should not be going into an unsafe environment with antiquated ventilation that looks like a war zone for his education.

    Furthermore, our economy has taken a devastating hit since the pandemic started. My son’s father is an electrician. Tradespeople need work to help jumpstart our economy.

    Funding this program is necessary and the only logical way to proceed.

  7. I worked as a bilingual middle school teacher in an urban area. The schools need physical improvement but morale support for everyone who enters that school.Parents need to be educated along with immigrant children as they all want and seek what is best for their children and the community they live in to improve this country. Resources must include an all inclusive approach to keep that spirit alive.

  8. Indeed, if you think education is too expensive, try ignorance–such as the ignorant followers of Trump’s big lie about so-called widespread election fraud in the 2020 election. This resulted in a white nationalist mob who, whipped up by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric earlier that day, violently broke into the Capitol, leading to several deaths and the injuring of 140 police officers defending the Capitol from the rioters. Untold hundreds of thousands of dollars, and perhaps millions of dollars, have been spent to harden the Capitol’s security in order to guard against likely future assaults on democracy and the rule of law by white nationalist pro-Trump militants.

  9. The future of the world is in our classrooms today and are worth the investment. Civics classes must be a part of every child’s education.

  10. We have to create this necessary support for our future leaders of tomorrow. We can not turn our backs on the youth of today.

  11. Public Schools are also a part of the country’s infrastructure. Many need new HVAC and ventilation systems. Many buildings are crumbling and need structural repairs.

    1. I am impressed with these responses. May I add my own statement? If we want our students to be ready for the 21st Century(and it is by the way already under way) all teachers of History and Social Studies must at least acknowledge the the history of our world was/is/and will always be a gathering of all races,experiences,ideas and events which are good and not so good,tragic,hateful to many specific groups of human beings along with justice plus laws and rules that continue to create a better world for all of us. This earth that we live on has crumbling buildings that were not made to last,flawed bridges and transportation systems that have endangered many lives world-wide plus many healthcare systems that are being pushed so hard that one wonders just how long it will take to create better ways to deliver care for all included.

      I feel that this can be accomplished. We must begin finally admit that everyone matters including all children and their families along with all educators,staff,school healthcare personnel plus student teachers. These special groups need to be granted seats at the table world-wide and included in vital decisions for growth and survival. Finally all of us living here on earth need to be able to continue to grow,thrive,become healthy and employable so that all people living here can indeed continue to grow and learn from each other.

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