Six things Congress must still do to protect students, families during COVID crisis
By Amanda Menas
Educators across the country know that in order for students and school communities to recover from the emotional and financial crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, legislators need to invest in the public education system now.
People of color have suffered the worst consequences of the pandemic by every measure–from rates of illness and death to unemployment to food insecurity and even lack of access to distance learning.
NEA is working hard to address those issues of equity and access.
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law, providing direct payments to families, and addressing many urgent needs of our students, educators and schools. Specifically, the bill provides a six-month suspension of student loan payments, and an education stabilization fund. Congress took substantial steps to combat the health and economic crisis spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, but more must be done.
“We thank Congress for leading this bipartisan agreement but also want to be clear while it is another step forward, much more will be needed. We call on Congress to work together quickly on the next package and…prevent dramatic cuts from hitting our schools, impacting student services and ensure educators do not lose their jobs,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia about the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.
But Congress must do more. Under our current inequitable school funding system, moving to a large scale use of technology in preK–12 and post-secondary education will widen existing achievement gaps among students. School districts with lower income populations simply will not be able to provide the relevant digital tools and broadband access for all students.
Here are six steps Congress can take to support all public school educators and students in the next bill:
- The “Homework Gap”
- Education Stabilization Fund
- Student debt relief
- Vote by mail