I don’t need to tell you how critical the next few months are for our members, our country and our children’s futures. On top of today’s horrible Espinoza decision that opens the doors to Betsy DeVos’s voucher schemes, parents, students and educators all around the country are in flux, having no idea what back to school looks like this year. We have no clear guidance nor the necessary resources from the Federal government to help reopen schools safely. We have no commitment of aid that could prevent thousands of layoffs of teachers, nurses, EMTs and other essential public workers in our states, cities and towns.
This is why AFT launched the HEROES Campaign: Don’t Forfeit Our Future, and it’s why our members need this union more than ever. And we need your voice RIGHT NOW.
Today the Senate Dems put forward a whopping Coronavirus relief & recovery package with $430 billion for child care, K-12 schools and higher education.
The House passed the HEROES Act more than a month ago. HEROES would provide $1 trillion in aid to our states, cities and towns, including at least $100 billion for public education. But the Mitch McConnell refuses to call a vote on the bill. But TODAY – the Senate Democrats are putting forward a series of bills to help the nation continue to fight and recover from the economic, health and educational effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The Senate Republicans could do something to help, but they are sticking with their plan to go on vacation for two weeks.
Sens. Patty Murray (D-CO) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put forward the a bill that would provide $345 billion for education, including:
- $175 billion for K-12 schools,
- $132 billion for higher education, and
- $33 billion in education aid that would be at the discretion of governors.
The Democratic package also offers:
- $875 billion for state and local relief;
- a $50 billion fund to help child care providers;
- $1.5 billion for programs aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect;
- $12 billion in new special education funding under the IDEA;
- $4 billion for the E-Rate Program to help bridge the “homework gap;”
- food security access for families and communities;
- resources for nursing homes keep residents and patients safe;
- safeguards for election security; and
- resources for small businesses and their employees, including unemployment insurance, that they need to stay afloat and resume operations through and after this crisis.
Basically, this is almost everything we have asked for. All of these things would provide immediate relief and comfort to American families hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse.
We already know that Republican leadership plans to kill these bills. They are in denial or simply spreading false information. Just a few hours ago, Rand Paul (R-KY) had the audacity to say that kids can’t even transmit the virus. They simply won’t put our families and our children on their priority list.
As Mitch McConnell leads the Senate out on vacation, our campaign is kicking into high gear. We’ve already driven more than 16,000 calls into key Senate offices, more than 7 million people have seen our digital ads and we have vacation-shaming actions planned in their districts next Monday. We need the American public to see who is fighting for us and who is on vacation. We need people to understand what’s at stake and why they aren’t getting the answers they need from their states or local school districts. We need to make sure that Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senators (particularly those up for re-election in 2020) feel the cost of their inaction – that the public understands that the Senate is hurting their local economies and jeopardizing their kids’ health and future.
So here’s what I am asking you to do:
1. Make sure people know about the Democratic Senators’ bills fighting for our families, our public schools and our kids’ futures. And make sure they know Mitch McConnell and the GOP Senators are going on vacation and leaving us all in the lurch. Use your social media platforms and your conversations and meetings with members to sharpen the differences and show who is on our side.
2. Watch the Senate discussion about the Coronavirus Childcare and Education Relief Act (https://www.senate.gov/legislative/floor_activity_pail.htm) and make sure the public hears from us. You can retweet relevant tweets from @AFTUnion or @rweingarten.
Additional AFT HEROES Campaign Resources:
- AFT’s action link to drive calls into the Senate?
- AFT’s letter urging the Senate to vote yes on the Democratic package of bills this week related to COVID-19 recovery
- Fact Sheet on the Coronavirus Childcare Education and Relief Act (CCCERA), the education and childcare-specific bill
- AFT’s letter specifically urging the Senate to vote yes on the CCERA, attached
- Letter from Pelosi and Schumer urging Senate Republicans to move on HEROES inaction: https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/62920
- A tweet from Schumer’s office on the Pelosi/Schumer letter: https://twitter.com/SenSchumer/status/1277590538179563522?s=20
You can also find more fact sheets, social shareables and helpful materials for the HEROES campaign on All In: http://allin.rtp.aft.org/heroesact.
Please reach out with questions. And if I don’t speak with you before then, please have a safe and restful Independence Day.
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers