EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress May 2, 2021

In his first 100 days, President Biden has made the single largest investment in students and public education ever. Scroll through this timeline to see what this administration is doing for students, educators, and communities across the nation.

Biden unveils American Families Plan in historic address to Congress

As President Joe Biden delivered his first address to Congress, two women—Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—sat on the dais behind the presidential podium for the first time in U.S. history. In another first, Biden unveiled a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan to fund critical programs and services for students, families, and communities—part of a series of what he calls “once in a generation” investments in our nation’s infrastructure, human as well as physical.

“We applaud President Joe Biden and his administration for prioritizing students and public education by proposing timely and necessary once-in-a-generation funding for services that help families and communities,” said NEA President Becky Pringle.

The American Families Plan includes universal prekindergarten for three- and four- year-olds; two years of tuition-free community college for all students, including Dreamers; bigger Pell Grants; and lower tuition at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). It would also address teacher shortages and the need to diversify the teacher pipeline—for example, by recruiting educators of color and supporting grow-your-own, teacher leadership, and residency programs.

The plan also aims to make health care and child care more affordable, capping the cost of child care at seven percent of income for low- and middle-income families. In addition, it would create a national program to provide paid sick leave and paid time off to care for family members.

To pay for these historic investments in America’s human infrastructure, Biden would reverse the biggest giveaways in the GOP’s 2017 tax bill, increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service, and eliminate long-standing loopholes that include taxing capital gains and stock dividends at much lower rates than the wages of working families.

May 2-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week

Now more than ever, it is fitting that we celebrate educators—teachers and ESPs—and their unwavering fortitude, optimism, creativity, and love for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bipartisan resolutions, introduced in both the Senate and the House, designate May 2-8 Teacher Appreciation Week. The resolutions note that educators have stepped up in new ways to support their students and communities during the pandemic, including by coordinating remote learning, supporting students’ mental health, providing meals to students in need, and distributing technology to students. In the Senate, they were introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME); in the House, they were introduced by Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and  Sam Graves (R-MO).

Throughout Teacher Appreciation Week, NEA will gather messages from across the country and pass them on. Text CELEBRATE to 48744 to get periodic texts celebrating teachers!

Cheers and Jeers

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) reintroduced the America’s College Promise Act (S.1396/H.R.2861), which would provide wo years of tuition-free access to community or technical college programs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Pandemic Electric Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which was begun last year to provide payments to children when schools were closed, will be continued over the summer and is expected to reach more than 30 million children.

Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), John Katko (R-NY), Andy Levin (D-MI), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) reintroduced the Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act (H.R. 2897), which would help make training available that maximizes hands-on opportunities during regular, paid working hours.

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