WASHINGTON — Congress today passed a historic economic relief package, the American Rescue Plan, which will provide critical funding to help alleviate suffering felt by millions of Americans.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:
“With today’s passage of the American Rescue Plan, we finally have the vital and comprehensive response to provide students, educators, families and hard-working Americans with the desperately needed relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. This historic legislation not only provides the resources to help every school building put in place the effective measures needed to keep students and educators safe; it also makes extraordinary investments that will lift countless children and families out of poverty and works to address the immense inequities that have systematically affected the most vulnerable students and communities of color. After months of tireless advocacy, educators gratefully applaud this bill. Now, state and local leaders must work together to ensure all students receive the support, tools and resources they need so that school buildings and college campuses can reopen — and stay open — safely and equitably.”
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, NEA members have worked to support students and their families by staying in constant contact with them — witnessing firsthand their desperation, fear and anxiety. At the same time, NEA members have never stopped advocating for what is needed to close the gaps exacerbated by this pandemic or the generations of underfunding schools in communities of color. Through the National Education Association, educators, parents, caregivers, students, and community members wrote hundreds of thousands of messages and placed thousands of calls to senators and representatives over the past year, sharing personal stories about what America’s students are facing and what they need to reopen school buildings and college campuses safely and equitably.
“Because of the American Rescue Plan, the lives of America’s students, educators and their families will improve in significant ways — including the nearly $170 billion dedicated to public schools and colleges, more than $7 billion for E-Rate to help address the digital divide, the $350 billion in local and state aid to keep frontline workers including educators on the job, and a historic investment in families that will cut child poverty in half.
“We applaud the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer and the representatives and senators for getting the job done. This federal legislation will undoubtedly alleviate some of our nation’s immense suffering, but there is still much work ahead to fully recover from the worst crisis to hit this country in more than a century — and to build back something better. NEA has outlined proven ways to help students overcome COVID-19 opportunity gaps and meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs in a comprehensive plan. We have an unprecedented opportunity to create the public schools all students — Black and white, Native and newcomer, Hispanic and Asian alike — need and deserve. Our work is not over.”