EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress November 21, 2021

Build Back Better Act passes House, heads for Senate

The Build Back Better Act passed the House 220-211 on Friday. As NEA said in a letter urging representatives to VOTE YES on the bill, “America is at a historic juncture. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity—a chance for meaningful action on long-ignored challenges—giving all children a strong start in early education, making child care more affordable, expanding affordable health care coverage, and more.”

“No matter what we look like or where we’re from, everyone deserves a shot at the American dream. But for too many working families, the American dream just gets farther and farther away from them,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement in which educators shared in their own words what the Build Back Better Act could mean for early childhood education, healthy school meals, paid family leave, addressing the chronic educator shortage, and securing protections for immigrants.

The House-passed bill includes universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds; takes important steps to make child care and college more affordable; expands access to free school meals; extends the child tax credit that has cut child poverty in half; and provides more resources for educator recruitment and retention, HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and the E-Rate program. It would also make the single largest investment in affordable housing in U.S. history; increase access to affordable health coverage; and provide temporary protection and employment authorization for an estimated 7 million undocumented immigrants.

The bill now goes to the Senate. The sooner the Senate acts, the sooner this landmark legislation can bring benefits to our students, educators, families, and communities. TAKE ACTION

Parents and educators urge Congress to fully fund IDEA

Parents and educators urged Congress to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during a Nov. 16 virtual briefing conducted by Fulfill the Promise, a national civil rights campaign for special education, along with United Teachers Los Angeles, NEA, and the American Federation of Teachers. Participants talked about how the historic underfunding of IDEA has impacted students with disabilities, and how meeting the promise that Congress made decades ago would have significant, positive impacts on those students, their schools, and communities. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) delivered remarks.

The IDEA Full Funding Act (S. 3213/H.R. 5984) would create a mandatory 10-year path to fully funding IDEA while the Keep Our Pact Act (S. 72/H.R. 764) would create a mandatory 10-year path to fully funding both IDEA and Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act—critical programs for the students most in need. Congress promised to pay 40 percent of the excess costs of special education services when IDEA was first passed, but has never come close; the federal share is now less than 16 percent. Now is the time to fulfill America’s promise of equal opportunity for all students. TAKE ACTION

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