Federal Legislative Update December 2010
News from Capitol Hill. . .
NEA advocacy: Your values in action
NEA cyberlobbyists: from Capitol Hill to the classroom, your voice AND your membership matter! Thanks to you and your support, the entire NEA family and public education made historic gains in 2009 and 2010. You collectively sent over 900,000 e-mails to the 111th Congress and made thousands of phone calls to and visits to your Members of Congress.
The results of your hard work are evident -- because of your efforts, the 111th U.S. Congress:
- Dramatically increased education funding— the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act doubled pre-K to 12 spending, provided a $250 tax credit in GPO/WEP states, preserved jobs, and more.
- Improved learning conditions — secured $4 billion to modernize public schools.
- Kept more than 550,000 educators working and millions of students learning— the Recovery Act saved 400,000 jobs and the Education Jobs Fund an additional 150,000 to prevent ballooning class sizes, cuts in after-school programs, and shorter school weeks.
- Helped make higher education affordable— invested an unprecedented $2 billion in community colleges, increased Pell Grants, streamlined student loans, and more.
- Addressed the needs of the whole child — expanded the school lunch program, set new standards to improve the quality of school meals with more fruits and vegetables, and provided professional development for food service workers.
- Expanded access to health care for children and adults— added 4 million poor children to current programs, created new programs for 32 million uninsured Americans, enabled children to stay on a parent’s policy until age 26, ended abuses such as lifetime coverage limits and dropping people when they get sick, and more.
- Stopped multiple efforts to fund voucher programs— in the District of Columbia and as part of the Department of Defense appropriation.
- Fought for social justice — passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and won extended benefits for unemployed parents to ensure they can provide food, shelter, and clothing for their children.
Thank you for sharing your first-hand expertise with policymakers and making sure educators’ voices were reflected in these important debates.
The threats to public education will be great in the coming year, and we will continue to need your help to stand up for public schools, for educators, and for the students you serve. Anti-public education forces at the federal and state level are threatening the rights of educators and seeking to silence organizations that fight for educators’ rights.
Stronger NEA voices and activism are the gifts that keep on giving. Your association needs you now more than ever. Sign up at http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/ to volunteer as a public education activist.
We wish you a very happy holiday season and a safe and joyous new year.
-- The National Education Association
News from Capitol Hill. . .
DREAM ACT: HOUSE PASSES DREAM ACT; TELL THE SENATE TO ACT
Each year, thousands of undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years graduate from U.S. high schools. Among these students, with whom NEA members work every day, are valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youth committed to bettering their communities. Yet, because of their lack of legal status, they are unable to pursue higher education.
On December 7, the House passed the bipartisan DREAM Act by a vote of 216-198. The bill gives eligible young people the opportunity to resolve their immigration status and work towards citizenship.
On December 8, the Senate voted to table action on the bill, as supporters work to secure the 60 votes needed for passage. The Senate could take up the bill again the week of December 13.
- Urge your Senators to support the DREAM Act
- See how your House member voted on passage of the DREAM Act
- See NEA’s co-sponsored ads (ad 1; ad 2; ad 3) in support of the DREAM Act
Congress did not pass an education funding bill for fiscal year 2011, which began October 1, 2010. Instead, a series of “continuing resolutions” (CR) have kept programs funded. Now, as the last CR expires, Congress is deciding how to proceed. The House has passed a long-term CR that would fund most programs at 2010 levels for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate is considering an “omnibus” bill that would include increases for key programs.
The omnibus bill under consideration would:
- Provide increases for Title I and IDEA
- Fill the gap in funding for Pell Grants, thereby avoiding deep cuts to other education programs and ensuring that eligible students can pursue their dreams of higher education
- Protect funding for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (this funding is NOT included in the House-passed CR)
Take Action: Urge the Senate to pass the omnibus funding bill.
Thanks to your efforts, Congress has passed legislation to help students get the nutrition they need for health and academic success. NEA cyberlobbyists made their voices heard with a strong showing of support for this important bill. Members of Congress listened to your first-hand expertise about the important links between nutrition and learning.
On December 2, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by a vote of 264-157. The Senate passed the bill via voice vote earlier this year. The President will sign the bill into law on Monday, December 13.
The new law will:
- Help reduce hunger and increase children’s access to healthy meals, including by better connecting eligible children with free school meals.
- Authorize grants to retain summer food program sponsors, improve and expand breakfast programs, and encourage states to develop comprehensive strategies to end child hunger.
- Make progress against childhood obesity and improve the nutritional quality of meals by strengthening nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, providing schools with increased resources and training to improve meal quality, and supporting farm-to-school programs and school gardens.
- Address training and professional development for food service workers.
See how your Member of Congress voted on the child nutrition bill.