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Posts tagged ‘Congress’

America’s Schools Would Get Billions in Relief from HEROES Act; House Set to Vote Today

On the eve of a critical vote that could provide $100 billion in direct funding to America’s schools, the National Education Association hosted a tele-town hall urging teachers and other education supporters to ask Congress to pass the HEROES Act.

A $3 trillion COVID relief package proposed by Congressional Democrats, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act would stabilize education funding so that cities and towns—already reeling from the current health and economic crisis—would not have to cut their school budgets.

More than 12,000 teachers and education supporters participated in Thursday’s call, which featured guest speakers Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.

Rise together

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia introduced NEA’s We Rise Together campaign and issued a national call to action, warning that that as tax revenues vaporize in cities and towns, we could face a 35% reduction in educator jobs from pre-K through higher education, with areas such as music, art, sports, and foreign language first on the chopping block.

As budgets are lost to the global health crisis, she said, “We are at risk of not having an entire village of educators serving students when we return to school.” She added, “There’s something we can do about that. Rise together and act.” Noting that a bill to support businesses passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, Eskelsen Garcia said, “The HEROES Act should too. Schools are the foundation of their communities, where students are safe and have a fair shot at making their dreams come true. Go to nea.org/covidaction to see how you can stand up for students.”

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle echoed Eskelsen Garcia’s call to action, saying, “We need hundreds of thousands of emails to rain down on our members of Congress. So get everyone who likes or loves you or intends to keep living with you to rise together with us. Our students are depending on you to do what’s right. Let’s bridge the gap we know is coming.”

Pringle urged teachers to text the word ACTION to 84693 in order to get alerts about important legislation affecting education and instant action steps to take.

Voices for teachers

Calling Kamala Harris a powerful champion of public education and our students, Eskelsen Garcia asked the California senator to address town hall participants in last night’s call.

“Thank you for paving the path for our future,” said Harris, who has proposed an average increase of $13,500 in salaries for teachers, pointing out that they earn 11% less than similarly educated professionals.

Characterizing COVID-19 as both a health crisis and an education crisis, she pointed out that 55 million students are currently at home.

“Our educators are participating in educating not only their students in this remote environment but often their own children as well, carrying a heavy burden,” Harris said. “Your job is difficult enough, and

now you have a pandemic that has exposed deep, pre-existing inequities in our education system. We need immediate funding to expand access to broadband at home, to support EL students and students with disabilities, and to ensure that in the fall, schools have PPE for a safe working and learning environment and the funding and flexibility to develop modified school calendars.”

Harris said passing the $3 trillion HEROES Act is critical to ensuring that schools are properly staffed with teachers and support staff when they reopen.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, a former Connecticut teacher who became the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, called the HEROES Act a “bold, aggressive plan to infuse much-needed funds into our education system so that municipalities don’t have to consider cutting teachers or services when they plan their budgets.”

She told town hall participants, “Everyone talks about how much they love teachers and says they’re our heroes, but legislators need to show it, not just say it. They need to support direct funding for education, which the HEROES Act will provide, prioritizing our schools to be sure they’re not left behind. Reach out to legislators and show your unity,” she urged.

Hayes expressed deep concerns about high numbers of students experiencing trauma during the pandemic and then returning to schools “that are stretched and underresourced.”

She said, “You cannot support students without supporting teachers. We need to come out with that rallying cry.” She added, “Kids will need the arts, humanities, and academic enrichment more than ever when they return to school, and the HEROES Act acknowledges that and provides the funding.”

The House is expected to vote on the HEROES Act today. Go to nea.org/covidaction or text ACTION to 84693 to push for passage of this critical bill, and ask likeminded friends and family members throughout the country to do the same.

Tell Congress to Take Further Action to Give Families Much-Needed Relief

A bill President Trump signed into law yesterday is an important step in the right direction to provide relief during this difficult time, but the education community wants Congress to go further to provide families with immediate financial support and regulatory relief.

The bill signed yesterday makes it easier for students who typically receive school meals to get access to food and extends sick leave and family leave protections to government employees, including public school teachers.

The National Education Association is calling on members of Congress and the Trump administration to implement immediate financial support measures first, along with regulatory relief that students desperately need from the Department of Education. Among the top measures that NEA is advocating: Read more

Bridgeport Teacher Testifies Before Congress on How to Stop the Teacher Shortage

Bridgeport teacher Michael Brosnan testified before joint Congressional subcommittees today.

Bridgeport is Connecticut’s largest school district, serving more than 23,0000 students, but the Bridgeport Public Schools have an annual teacher attrition rate of 10-12 percent. Today Bridgeport teacher and early leadership institute coach Michael Brosnan told members of Congress that, “While welcoming fresh faces each year, or in the middle of each year, was certainly a pleasure, it did little for school stability or student achievement.”

Brosnan was speaking at a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment titled Educating our Educators: How Federal Policy Can Better Support Teachers and School Leaders.

“We’re plagued by perpetual underfunding and that means we face many obstacles. Recruiting teachers and retaining them is one of them,” Brosnan said. Read more

Teachers Rally for One of Their Own

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At a rally this weekend, Jahana Hayes thanks teachers and other union members for their support. For more rally photos, visit CEA’s Flickr page.

Chanting “Labor is your neighbor,” dozens of union members—including fellow educators—gathered on the Meriden town green Saturday to show their support for teacher-turned-Congressional-candidate Jahana Hayes. Hayes is vying for the House seat in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District.

A former Waterbury educator and Connecticut Teacher of the Year, Hayes was named National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and spent the following year traveling across the country, advocating on behalf of public education, and listening to educators, administrators, community leaders, and others about issues that impact students, families, and communities.

“Jahana is a strong champion and advocate for Connecticut students and teachers,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “She has overcome numerous challenges and has taken every opportunity to improve her own life and the lives of others. She is exactly the type of person we need fighting for all of us in Congress.” Read more

Please Thank Your Members of Congress and Urge Them to Pass the Dream Act

A Quinnipiac Poll out this week shows that 77 percent of U.S. voters want undocumented young people to be allowed to stay in the country and apply for citizenship. Congress, however, is getting ready to recess for the year, and members still haven’t acted on the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide undocumented young people with a path to U.S. citizenship.

Teachers in Connecticut support the Dream Act that is crucial for many of their present and former students. Every day that Congress doesn’t act, more than 100 Dreamers lose their legal status and work permit, and the ability to thrive and contribute to our communities.

Connecticut’s U.S. Representatives and Senators all stand in support of the Dream Act. Read more

Educators Say Resources Crucial for Achieving Equity for All Students

U.S. Secretary of Education John King told educators gathered at Central CT State University that

U.S. Secretary of Education John King told educators gathered at Central CT State University that “there’s tremendous work we need to do in equity.”

Students in Connecticut’s poorest schools are four times as likely to be taught by a core academic teacher who is not highly qualified. Compared with the state’s wealthiest schools, in the poorest schools there are also twice as many teachers who have been in the classroom for less than five years.

Ensuring access to experienced, highly qualified educators for all Connecticut students is a priority for all of the educators and district personnel who attended an Equity Lab at Central Connecticut State University yesterday.

The event drew participants from eight of Connecticut’s poorest districts to develop action plans for how to better recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and administrators.

“There’s tremendous work we need to do in equity,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John King who visited the Equity Lab on the last leg of his “Opportunities Across America” Tour. King said that nationwide only eighteen percent of educators are people of color.
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Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation Earns A’s on Education

Connecticut’s five members of the House of Representatives and two Senators all earned A’s on a recent congressional report card released by NEA. The report card measures congress members’ overall support for public education and educators.

The grades are based on voting records on selected votes in 2013, votes and other actions involving union rights, and on five additional criteria: Read more

The Future of Federal Programs and Their Impact on You and Your Classroom

Education funding, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — federal policies affect programs that are important to teachers. At the CEA-Retired annual meeting NEA Federal Lobbyist Al Campos updated members on what’s happening in Washington when it comes to these important issues.

Watch the video below to find out what Campos had to say about the future of these programs as well as the sequester, the Government Pension Offset, and the Windfall Elimination Provision — and how educators can help shape federal policy. To contact your U.S. Senator, click here.