December 22 (New York) — Educators for Excellence, a teacher-led organization, today reacted to the passage of the COVID-relief stimulus.
Since passage of the CARES Act nine months ago, Educators for Excellence has called on Congress to pass an aid package designed to meet the immediate needs of schools, which experts estimate at between $175 and $245 billion dollars. The current aid package negotiated by Congress includes $54.3 billion in aid for public K-12 schools, as well as $4.05 billion in discretionary funds that Governors may allocate to education, including K-12 schools. Educators for Excellence has also joined partners nationwide to call on Congress to pass $4 billion in funds for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide low-income families with high-speed internet. The bill includes $3.2 billion in funds toward this priority.
Additionally, throughout the COVID crisis, teachers have heard concerns from students and their families who are worried about eviction, paying their bills and keeping food on the table. The $600 direct payments and enhanced unemployment insurance included in the bill offer some relief to students and their families, but many suggest these supports will come too late and be too small to have a meaningful impact for the families in most need.
"I am breathing a small sigh of relief with the passage of this stimulus, understanding the massive efforts needed to safely reopen schools across the country, but my colleagues and I still have our eyes on next year’s budget,” said E4E-New York member Deirdre Levy, special education teacher at P.S. 9 Teunis G. Bergen in Brooklyn. “Without more help, education spending could be slashed, and that means fewer teachers in the classroom with our students. If the budget shrinks, I’m deeply concerned about losing my fellow teachers who are doing a great job serving their students, not to mention the counseling and mental health staff for students who need these support services now more than ever.”
“We are relieved that Congress has finally come to an agreement on the COVID-relief stimulus,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators for Excellence. “This package is a long-overdue step in the right direction, but state and local governments are still hurting, and this bill does very little to help them avoid the kind of shortfalls that could decimate education budgets across the country. Without additional state and local aid, low-income students and students of color, who have already been acutely impacted by the devastation of this pandemic, will see the most significant cuts to their schools' funding. This relief package needs to be a down payment and not a final act by Congress.”