As schools across America crumble, Congress can come to the rescue
Every student deserves to go to school in buildings that are safe and nurture their love of learning. Throughout the pandemic, educators have been calling for increased investment in our public school buildings. Now, Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pave the way. READ MORE.
Urge your senators and representative to co-sponsor the ESP Family Leave Act
Education Support Professionals (ESPs) nurture students, transport them to and from school, prepare and serve healthy school meals, keep the school environment clean and safe, and perform other vital jobs in school communities. The ESP Family Leave Act (S. 2821/H.R. 5348), introduced last week by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), would allow more hard-working ESPs to qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits that allow them to care for themselves—or family members—without fear of losing their jobs when they are ready to return to them.
Under current law, FMLA allows certain eligible employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own or a family member’s serious health condition, and up to 26 weeks for military-caregiver leave. To qualify for FMLA, the employee must work at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the leave. Some ESPs do not have a problem qualifying given the number of hours they work. Others have difficulty reaching the 1,250 threshold due to their schedules and the limited school year, but need FMLA in order to care for themselves or a family member.
Every ESP should have access to family and medical leave when they need it. The ESP Family Leave Act would give ESPs the respect and support they deserve—and need. TAKE ACTION
Introduction of police reform bill flounders in Senate
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) made it official last week: negotiations with Republican colleagues over a Senate version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) have broken down. Booker, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) had been leading the bipartisan, months-long effort to reach agreement on the bill since spring, when a jury found police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering Floyd. Disheartening as it is for yet another House-passed bill to flounder due to lack of support in the Senate, this is no time to give up. We can’t wait for more people to die for much-needed reforms to happen.
Going to school or returning home from an after-school job or visiting friends should not put students’ lives at risk. But sadly, in communities of color, this is the reality. A 2019 study published in a National Academy of Sciences journal found that 1 in every 1,000 Black men can expect to be killed by police.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act takes initial steps to end police brutality, protect civil rights and liberties, and change the culture of law enforcement agencies. These steps include ending racial and religious profiling and no-knock warrants, mandatory de-escalation training for police, prohibiting chokeholds and other potentially fatal maneuvers, and requiring police to use dashboard and body cameras. Justice for Black Lives, issued by NEA’s executive committee earlier this year, calls for many of the same steps. Urge the Senate to go back to the negotiating table. TAKE ACTION
Cheers and Jeers
Reps. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Reduce Financial Barriers to Immigration and Citizenship Act (H.R. 5319), legislation to facilitate and promote naturalization for more than nine million citizenship-eligible immigrants.
Republican Reps. Thomas Massie (KY) and Tom McClintock (CA) and the 196 Democrats who supported an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to help get weapons of war off our streets by ending indiscriminate transfers of military equipment from the Pentagon to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
209 Republicans and 22 Democrats in the House who opposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to help get weapons of war off our streets by ending indiscriminate transfers of military equipment from the Pentagon to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.