On May 15, the House passed the HEROES Act to help schools and campuses reopen safely and save educators’ jobs. Now, it’s up to the Senate. Budget cuts loom even as schools struggle to make the costly changes necessary to reopen safely. Unless the Senate acts soon, those budget cuts could lead to the loss of nearly 2 million education jobs at every level from kindergarten to postsecondary—one-fifth of the workforce. Everyone agrees the road to recovery runs through our schools. But they cannot reopen safely if school budgets are slashed and students do not have what they need to be safe, learn, and succeed—especially the students of color, students with disabilities, and students living in poverty who have suffered most during this crisis.
Email your senators and tell them to take action to reopen schools and campuses safely and save educators’ jobs.
A proposed rule change by the U.S. Department of Labor would impose large financial burdens on state education associations who would suddenly have to comply with a complex federal law that they have never before been required to comply with. State affiliates faced with the hurdle of complying with these requirements would have to divert resources away from their ability to advocate for educators and students.
It is important that the Labor Department hears from members of the public who would be impacted by this rule. The more educators who can weigh in against this rule, the harder it is for the Labor Department to justify imposing these onerous and unnecessary federal regulations.
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The ESP Family Leave Act (S. 1401/H.R. 7739) updates the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), so that more education support professionals (ESPs) can access benefits without risking their jobs. ESPs who work only during the school year or less than eight hours a day often struggle to clear the FMLA’s 1,250 hours of service threshold.
Email your senators and urge them to support the ESP Family Leave Act (S. 1401/H.R. 7739)
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) assures that children with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education. When Congress passed IDEA, it promised the federal government would pay 40 percent of special education costs.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act.
The Social Security Fairness Act repeals the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) that unfairly deprive 2.5 million retired public servants of Social Security benefits they have earned—educators, police officers, firefighters, and other employees of state and local governments.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to make the Social Security Fairness Act part of the coronavirus legislative package.
The Rebuild America's Schools Act would create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax-credit bond program that targets high-poverty schools whose facilities pose health and safety risks to students and staff.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to support the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is requiring most of the schools it operates—here and overseas—to reopen and offer in-person instruction five days a week despite a resurgence of COVID-19 in many of those places. DoDEA educators are eager to return to their schools and see their students, but are concerned about safety—specifically, the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and educators, the feasibility of social distancing, and adequate staffing levels. Urgent action is needed to prevent this threat to the health and safety of military dependents, as well as the threat to military readiness posed by this unnecessary exposure to the virus.
Email your senators and representative and ask them to require schools for military kids to implement remote instruction
The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act is part of the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a broad bill that would fix our crumbling and broken infrastructure. Among other things, it would create a $100 billion grant program that targets high-poverty schools and a $30 billion tax-credit bond program for facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff. The bill would also provide $5 billion to help close the digital divide and equip students to go online. Nationwide, as many as 12 million students—1 in 5—are unable to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access.
Email your senators and tell them to support the Moving Forward Act.
The Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s rationale for ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” For now, DACA protects 700,000 Dreamers from deportation, including 15,000 educators. But it’s not a permanent solution. The American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) passed by the House more than a year ago provides a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, other Dreamers brought to this country as minors, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Now, the Senate must act.
Email your senators and tell them to support the American Dream and Promise Act and push Senate leadership to bring it to the floor immediately.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (S. 3912/H.R. 7120) takes initial steps to end police brutality, protect the civil rights and liberties of all people, and change the culture of law enforcement agencies. We are at an inflection point; we must not waste the momentum of this difficult time, or risk the possibility that another Black family will be left to mourn a loved one’s senseless death at the hands of those who are sworn to protect us.
Tell your senators to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
We all want our schools and campuses to safely reopen, but massive budget cuts are a threat we cannot ignore. The House of Representatives passed a bold plan to help called the HEROES Act but the Senate – led by Mitch McConnell – refuses to act. We need your help by calling your senators to ensure our students do not suffer any more from the COVID-19 crisis. Fill out this form to be automatically connected to your senators’ offices. We’ll walk you through what to say. If the Senate does not step up, schools face cuts far worse than the Great Recession, with fewer educators and less help for students.
People across the nation and the world saw George Floyd, an African American man, struggle for his life for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with a police officer’s knee thrust against his neck—sustained, inhumane torture that horrified, saddened, and angered us. As educators, NEA members want all of our students to have an education that prepares them to be good citizens and contributing members of their communities. These opportunities are only accessible to the extent that our nation can keep students and their family members safe from police brutality, a particular danger in African American communities. H. Res. 988 condemns police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force. Crucially, it seeks several actions to protect the civil rights and liberties of all people from police abuses. The resolution is an extension of NEA’s racial and social justice work, and is one of several actions we are taking in response to police brutality in communities of color.
Email your representative and ask them to cosponsor resolution condemning police brutality, racial profiling, and excessive use of force (H. Res. 988)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration are pushing privatization when the focus should be state budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—and what those massive shortfalls mean for the public schools that educate 9 out of 10 students. Congress needs to provide at least $175 billion more for the Education Stabilization Fund created by the CARES Act—the $30.7 billion authorized thus far is not nearly enough.
Email your members of Congress and tell them don’t let DeVos use COVID-19 to push privatization.
Bipartisan resolutions, introduced in both chambers to designate May 4-8 Teacher Appreciation Week, note that educators “have stepped up in new ways to support their students and communities, including by coordinating remote learning, supporting students’ mental health, providing meals to students in need, and distributing technology to students.” The resolutions are sponsored by Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Tell your members of Congress to contact one of them to become a cosponsor.
The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on a long-standing inequity: the inability of as many as 16 million students, including many of the most vulnerable, to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access. The Emergency Educational Connections Act provides at least $4 billion for a one-time emergency fund, administered by the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, to equip students with hot spots and devices for remote learning.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to include the Emergency Educational Connections Act (S. 3690/H.R. 6563) in the next COVID-19 package to ensure no student is barred from the virtual classroom this school year.
The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on the health and economic security of families and individuals. As Congress considers additional legislation to help the millions who are suffering, measures to ease the burden of our nation’s 45 million student loan borrowers should be included. The average educator begins a career with about $35,000 in student loan debt. The Student Debt Emergency Relief Act (H.R. 6363), introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), would cancel at least $30,000 in outstanding student loan debt, boosting consumer spending and reducing the financial strain on educators and other borrowers.
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Under the guise of helping our most vulnerable students weather the coronavirus crisis, DeVos is calling for “microgrants”—a tone-deaf agenda that’s just vouchers by another name.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to help vulnerable students, opposing DeVos’ latest scheme.
The House has already passed the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. Now, it’s time for the Senate to act. Endorsed by the National Education Association and more than 170 other education, public health, civil rights and parents organizations, this bill would place new restrictions on the marketing of e-cigarettes (specifically making it illegal to market, advertise, or promote any e-cigarette products to anyone younger than 21) and ban flavors in tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. It also would place a new excise tax on nicotine.
Email your senators and tell them to support S. 3174 to help reverse the growing use of tobacco products among American youth.
Discrimination that targets people of African descent based on “natural” or “protective” hairstyles, such as cornrows, twists, and braids, violates our civil rights laws. But some federal courts have issued rulings that permit discrimination in schools, workplaces, and in other settings. The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2019 (S. 3167/H.R. 5309) would outlaw discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyle.
All students deserve acceptance for who they are. Discrimination in any form not only denies students the support they need—it violates America’s core values and civil rights laws. Ask your representatives to co-sponsor and support the CROWN Act to end hair bias and discrimination.
The Trump/DeVos budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, released Feb. 10, would slash education funding by $6.1 billion—8.4 percent—compared to the amount Congress provided this year.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to reject the Trump/DeVos agenda
This year, Public Schools Week is February 24-28. The bipartisan, bicameral Public Schools Week resolution recognizes the importance of our nation’s public schools and honors those who work tirelessly to support and strengthen them.
Email your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Public Schools Week resolution.
Share your story
To help build support in Congress for rebuilding America’s public schools, we need personal stories—your stories. The average public school building is 44 years old. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the condition of our public school buildings an overall grade of D+. Here are some questions to consider as you share your story:
For nearly 2 million retired educators, firefighters, and other public employees, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 4540) starts to fix problems caused by Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Current retirees would get an extra $150 a month and future retirees an average of $75 a month. No one would get less.
The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of people who work in jobs covered by Social Security and jobs NOT covered by Social Security over the course of their careers—for example, educators compelled to take part-time or summer jobs to make ends meet. NEA continues to push for full repeal of the WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people not covered by Social Security themselves.
Tell your representative to support H.R. 4540.
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), which governs federal student-aid programs, federal aid to colleges, oversight of teacher preparation programs, and much more, is long overdue. In October 2019, the House Education and Labor Committee passed the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), which would help educate and prepare teachers, improve loan forgiveness programs for educators, and take other crucial steps to strengthen post-secondary education and make it accessible to more students. But the Senate has yet to act.
Email your representatives and urge them to reinvest in colleges and universities by supporting the College Affordability Act.
Email your senators and urge them to act now to overhaul the Higher Education Act.
The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act would make it federal law that our nation’s 17.3 million public employees—including educators—have the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor and support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program encourages college graduates to pursue careers in public service. education. If educators, first responders, social workers, and other public servants make 10 years’ worth of qualified monthly payments on their federal student loans, they will get the remaining balance forgiven.
But that’s not happening, because the program is broken. Fewer than 1 percent of eligible public servants who apply actually receive the loan forgiveness they were promised.
Tell Congress to invest in public service by fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
The Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2019 (S. 1122/H.R. 1109) would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students. Email your representatives and tell them to support the Mental Health Services for Students Act.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is engaging in illegal contract actions against its employees – thousands of whom are members of NEA and its Federal Education Association affiliate.
In its Stateside schools, DoDEA is forcing educators to work 24 additional, unpaid hours each academic quarter on “busy work” unrelated to their jobs, denying students the support they deserve and creating havoc for educators struggling to find last-minute child care and make other arrangements. DoDEA’s actions are part of its illegal implementation of an unsigned contract that the Federal Education Association – Stateside Region is contesting.
Overseas, DoDEA is trying to eliminate all grievance and due-process rights for workers, seeking to make them at-will employees subject to management’s whims. DoDEA also intends to extend the duty day without added compensation, curtail the ability of union representatives to serve their members, and make it even harder to fix pay problems. These are just a few of the harmful actions they’re proposing in contract negotiations for Overseas employees.
Congress is the closest thing DoDEA schools have to a school board. A group of Senators and Representatives have sent a bipartisan letter to DoDEA management opposing its illegal contract actions, but we must all speak out. Tell your elected representatives to rein in DoDEA’s harmful actions and protect the quality of Department of Defense schools, for the sake of the military dependents they serve and the educators who work in them.
School food service workers serve millions of meals each day, providing healthy, nutritious foods that fuel students’ minds and bodies. Yet, many of these professionals don’t have access to the training they need for this important work. The Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act would help make training available that maximizes hands-on opportunities during regular, paid working hours.
Email your senators and representative and ask them to cosponsor the Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act.
The Keep Our PACT Act would ensure education is a priority in the federal budget by creating a mandatory 10-year path to fully funding both Title I and IDEA.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor and support the Keep Our PACT Act.
The Equality Act would give LGBTQ people consistent and explicit protection from discrimination in key areas of life: employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
Email your senators and urge them to support the Equality Act.
The recent tragedies in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton are a gut-wrenching reminder of Congress’ inaction on gun violence. It is long past time to take action to stop school shootings and mass shootings in the United States. The Senate has a bill ready that can serve as a crucial first step in keeping schools and communities safe from gun violence.
Tell your senators to support the Background Checks Expansion Act (S. 42) and encourage McConnell to bring it to the floor.
The Senate’s Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. Forty million Americans—nearly 30 percent of the workforce—would benefit from the increase, including many education support professionals essential to the daily operation of our schools.
Send an email urging your senators to cosponsor S. 150.
Equal pay for equal work is NOT today’s reality. Women still earn just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, with women of color receiving even less.
Email your senators and urge them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Social Security 2100 Act would increase benefits across the board, calculate annual cost-of-living adjustments for seniors more accurately, and increase the minimum benefit to ensure that low-earning workers do not retire into poverty.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to support the Social Security 2100 Act.
Taxpayer dollars should go to the public schools that educate 9 out of 10 Americans, not private schools that can pick and choose their students based on economic status, academic achievement, or even gender.
Email your members of Congress and tell them to reject Betsy DeVos’ latest voucher scheme, the so-called Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act (S. 634/H.R. 1434).