May 25, 2018
Keep the pressure on! Tell Congress not to add a voucher program to the must-pass defense bill
You did it! By a vote of 351-66, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act without NEA-opposed amendments on vouchers or paying workers prevailing wages on projects funded by the federal government. Now the action moves to the Senate. While it may appear that support for vouchers is softening, the battle is far from won — the Senate version of the bill could include a voucher program for military-connected students. Whether they’re called vouchers, education savings accounts, or tuition tax credits, the impact is the same: robbing public schools of funding and resources that may already fall short of what is needed. A voucher program could also reduce Impact Aid for public schools serving large numbers of military-connected students — one of the reasons the National Military Family Association and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are against it. Click on the take action button and tell your senators to oppose private school vouchers for military-connected students.
Tell your representative to oppose the GOP’s rewrite of the Higher Education Act
The PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), a rewrite of the Higher Education Act that NEA opposes in its current form, could be coming to floor soon. The bill eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which encourages talented people to become educators, firefighters, nurses, public defenders, and pursue other forms of public service. It also consolidates repayment options, caps the amount of money students and families can borrow from the federal government to pay for college and graduate school, relaxes oversight of for-profit schools with a history of preying on at-risk students, and eliminates $41 million in federal grants for teacher preparation programs. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to draft a new bill that remains true to the original intent of the Higher Education Act: making college affordable and accessible to all our students.
Top Democrats propose ‘better deal’ for students and educators
NEA president Lily Eskelsen García joined Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate HELP Committee ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA), and House Education and the Workforce Committee ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) in releasing a five-point “better deal” for education that builds on the nationwide #RedForEd movement. The plan includes $50 billion for states and school districts to increase educator pay and recruit and retain a strong, diverse workforce; another $50 billion to improve school infrastructure and resources; additional support for Title I schools; safeguarding the right of educators and other public employees to unionize and bargain collectively; and finally meeting the federal commitment to fund special education. For details, see the op-ed by Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi in USA Today.
Cheers and Jeers
Republican Reps. Mike Bost (IL), Don Young (AK), Walter B. Jones (NC), Will Hurd (TX), Elise Stefanik (NY), Tom MacArthur (NJ), Rodney Davis (IL), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Kevin Cramer (ND), Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), John Shimkus (IL), Adam Kinzinger (IL), and Ryan Costello (PA) for signing the successful letter urging the House Rules Committee not to allow amendments to the defense bill that would have diverted Impact Aid to vouchers or other purposes
Republican Reps. Erik Paulsen (MN), Tom Reed (NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) for adding their names this week to the discharge petition that could force Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to bring bipartisan immigration legislation to the House floor — as we go to press, the petition is 5 votes short of the 218 needed
House Education and the Workforce Committee ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Elise Stefanik (R- NY) for their pointed questioning of education secretary Betsy DeVos at a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), and other members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force for participating in a forum where students from around country shared their experiences with gun violence and proposals for reform
Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, for joining other leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus in introducing the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018(H.R. 5944), comprehensive legislation to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities
Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Darren Soto (D-FL) for appearing as speakers at the special order hour on Janus vs. AFSCME organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Alma Adams (D-NC), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) for their floor speeches on gun violence
Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for leading the letter signed by over 30 House and Senate Democrats questioning commerce secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census
House Appropriations Committee ranking member Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for blasting House GOP leadership for significantly increasing the allocations for defense and security, but not education, labor or health
House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) for significantly increasing the allocations for defense and security, but not education, labor or health — a sharp contrast to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is proposing a $2.2 billion increase in these areas