March 17, 2017
March 12, 2017
March 5, 2017
March 17, 2017
President Trump’s budget proposal to slash public education
President Trump’s initial budget proposal for FY2018 slashes funding for the Department of Education by $9 billion (a 13.5% cut) which would roll back education funding (excluding Pell Grants) to pre-2002 levels (in current dollars), despite 8.6 million more students in our classrooms. The budget is the opening salvo in the Trump/DeVos school privatization agenda. While short on details, it is long on ways to undermine public education. It adds $1.4 billion for “school choice,” with plans to ramp up to $20 billion over time; $1 billion for Title I portability; $250 million for a new private school voucher program; and a $168 million increase for charter schools. Meanwhile, the budget calls for eliminating a $2.3 billion professional development, teacher training and class size reduction program, eliminates a $1.2 billion after-school program, and slashes grant aid for low-income students to attend higher education. Check out NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s statement, and Click on the take action button to tell members of Congress to oppose the Trump/DeVos anti-public education agenda.
Hearings on Judge Gorsuch to begin Monday
Educators who work with students with disabilities will be meeting with their senators in Washington while the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings, starting March 20, on Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. NEA strongly opposes Judge Gorsuch. He has repeatedly ruled against students with disabilities who seek a public education, consistently sided with big business at the expense of working people, and embraced extreme views that could endanger workers’ rights on issues like employment discrimination, worker safety, and wages. Tell both of your senators to vote NO on Judge Gorsuch — click on the take action button to email them, or call them at 1-855-632-1921.
GOP health bill provides $883 billion in tax cuts, strips 24 million of health coverage
The American Health Care Act, the GOP’s “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), provides $883 billion in tax cuts while taking health coverage away from 24 million of the most vulnerable among us — children, the poor, the sick, and the elderly — by 2026, according to the analysis released March 13 by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Nevertheless, the House Budget Committee approved the bill by a vote of 19-17 (all Democrats and three Republicans voted no), and the bill will be on the floor of the House on Thursday. NEA strongly opposes the American Health Care Act because it threatens health care for the 36 million children now covered by Medicaid. Click on the take action button and tell members of Congress to vote NO on the American Health Care Act.
Cheers and Jeers
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Jack Reed (D-RI) for helping to secure an exemption (for up to 700 staff) for Department of Defense school employees from the Trump administration’s freeze on federal hiring
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) for their letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to support the E-Rate program.
President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos for their proposed FY2018 budget that would slash Department of Education funding by 13.5 percent, eliminating programs that reduce class sizes, provide after-school enrichments and help make college more affordable for low-income families
March 12, 2017
GOP health bill is Robin Hood in reverse: cuts taxes on the rich, slashes health benefits for the poor
The American Health Care Act, the GOP’s “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), is speeding through the House — two committees approved it last week, a third committee will act this week, and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he’ll bring it to the floor before the April 7 recess. NEA strongly opposes the bill because it threatens health care for the 36 million children now covered by Medicaid and could undermine public education as well. The bill radically restructures the way Medicaid is funded and rolls back subsidies for premiums and out-of-pocket costs while providing huge tax cuts for high earners and insurance companies. “Bottom line, working Americans will pay more for less coverage while insurance executives and the wealthy get handouts,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen García. Click on the take action button and tell members of Congress to vote NO on the American Health Care Act.
Supreme Court nominee rules against students with disabilities
Starting March 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, whom NEA strongly opposes. “Judge Gorsuch has gone out of his way to impose extra legal barriers for students with disabilities rather than helping them to overcome obstacles,” said NEA president Lily Eskelsen García. He has repeatedly ruled against students with disabilities who seek a public education, consistently sided with big business at the expense of working people, and embraced extreme views that could endanger workers’ rights on issues like employment discrimination, worker safety, and wages. Click on the take action button and call both of your senators and tell them to vote NO on Judge Gorsuch.
DC voucher program renewal heads to House floor
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to renew the NEA-opposed voucher program in the nation’s capital. Established in 2004, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, also known as SOAR, does not fulfill its stated purpose of helping the students most in need, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In party-line votes, the committee rejected amendments on IDEA and LGBTQ protections for students. Tell your representatives to oppose renewing the DC voucher program.
Anti-union forces take aim at pension benefits
Educators represented by the Federal Employee Association, an NEA affiliate for employees of schools run by the Department of Defense Education Authority (DoDEA), would have time spent on certain union activities deducted from service credited toward their pensions under the NEA-opposed Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364), sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), that a House committee approved this week. Floor action looms. “Official time” includes representational activities such as grievance and disciplinary proceedings, but not union-specific business such as organizing. Tell your representatives to vote NO on the Official Time Reform Act of 2017.
Cheers and Jeers
Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA) for publicly voicing concerns about Judge Neil Gorsuch’s anti-worker, pro-corporate record.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bob Casey (D-PA) for urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect the E-Rate program, the third largest source of federal funding for education.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) for saying people won’t lose health coverage just because the GOP’s “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act slashes subsidies for premiums and out-of-pocket costs: "Americans have choices, and they've got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”
March 5, 2017
Trump calls for national voucher program
In his nationally televised address to Congress earlier this week, President Trump reiterated his call for a massive national voucher program. Ironically, the proposal comes at the same time as a wave of research showing that the three largest voucher programs — in Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio — are hurting rather than helping students. President Trump has promised to create a $20 billion voucher program, which could take the form of tuition tax credits or divert money from Title I and other programs for disadvantaged students. In the next two weeks, he will also propose a budget expected to include a $54 billion increase in defense spending and massive cuts in discretionary programs like education, environmental protection, and foreign aid. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to reject vouchers and tuition tax credits that drain resources from public schools.
Hearings on Supreme Court nominee to begin March 20
Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominated to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by Antonin Scalia’s death more than a year ago, are scheduled to start March 20. NEA opposes confirming Judge Gorsuch because of his record and views. He has repeatedly ruled against students with disabilities who seek a public education, consistently sided with big business at the expense of working people, and embraced extreme views that could endanger workers’ rights on issues like employment discrimination, worker safety, and wages. Click on the take action button and urge your senators to vote NO on Judge Gorsuch.
GOP health care bill to repeal and replace ACA looms
House committees are expected to vote next week on legislation to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act. Threats to Medicaid are emerging as one sticking point, as well as taxing employer-provided health care benefits. Options under discussion include new approaches to Medicaid funding — block grants or per capita caps — that are likely to lead to drastic benefit cuts. States could have no choice but to slash benefits or take money from education for essential health care. Click on the take action button and urge Congress to protect health care for children and families.
Cheers and Jeers
Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) for introducing the PROTECT Immigration Act, which would block a key component of President Trump's January 25 executive order on immigration.
Representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, for presiding over a hearing that showcased the benefits of career and technical education for students across the country.
Republican Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) for publicly describing as unrealistic the administration’s proposed reliance on cuts in education and other domestic programs to finance increases in defense spending.
Education secretary Betsy DeVos for describing historically black colleges and universities as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice” when they were actually a response to segregation and Jim Crow laws that kept African-Americans out of other institutions of higher education.