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Sunday, January 10, 2021

EdAction in Congress January 10, 2021 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress January 10, 2021 - Education Votes
EdAction in Congress January 10, 2021

NEA calls for immediate removal of President Trump

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), leaders of their respective caucuses, normally don’t agree on much. But they are of one mind when it comes to Donald Trump’s last-ditch attempt to stop Congress from certifying the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and the insurrection fueled by Trump’s seditious rhetoric. Totally unacceptable.

January 6 “will live forever in infamy,” Schumer said. “This temple to democracy was desecrated, its windows smashed, our offices vandalized.” 

“The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken,” McConnell said. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”

To protect our democracy, NEA is joining Democratic, Republican, business, and civil rights leaders in calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office.

“Our nation is based on a promise that every single person—Black, Latino/a/x, Asian, Native, White, regardless of wealth—can pursue a better tomorrow. That promise is in jeopardy because President Donald Trump and his allies refuse to accept the will of the people and have endangered Americans and American democracy,” said NEA President Becky Pringle.

In government and social studies classes, NEA members teach students about the Constitution and the duties of citizenship. They teach that our elections depend not only on citizens to exercise the right to vote, but also on our willingness to accept the results of elections. They teach that interested parties can and often do challenge election results. But once the challenges have been examined, those on the losing side concede defeat because they prize our democratic traditions over any single Election Day win or loss.

More fundamentally, we teach our children—even before they begin formal schooling—this basic concept of fair play: In any competition, someone wins and someone loses. Conveying this concept is challenging when our children are getting a lesson from some elected “leaders” in what NOT to do: Throw a temper tantrum, discredit the process, attempt to delay the inevitable, and if none of that works, sow as much discord as possible before you exit the field.

NEA has developed materials to help you talk to kids about the violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying that President-elect Joe Biden won the election. Check them out!

COVID-19 relief package doesn’t go far enough

Shortly before adjourning for good, the 116th Congress provided a $900 billion down payment on coronavirus relief. The package is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it provides some relief for students, educators, and working families. On the other, it does not include state and local aid that would help avoid laying off educators, firefighters, and other essential public servants—a top NEA priority. Other shortcomings include the lack of dedicated funding for the E-Rate program to help close the homework gap and the failure to extend the moratorium on student-loan payments that expires on Jan. 31.

Key provisions include:

  • $82 billion to help equip schools and campuses to reopen safely and address budget shortfalls, as well as address personnel costs; $2.75 billion is earmarked for private schools with restrictions and public accountability requirements
  • One-time $600 payments for eligible adults and dependent children
  • Federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week through March 31 for eligible workers
  • $7 billion for coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution
  • Increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent and expands the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for families with children in childcare programs and meals for seniors
  • Tax credits for private sector employers that provide paid emergency sick leave—a half-measure, at best, that does not guarantee workers who are sick or exposed to COVID-19 can safely stay home without losing pay

Cheers and Jeers 

Democrats from the House Committee on Education and Labor wrote in opposition to a USDA proposal to roll back standards that have significantly improved the nutritional quality of school meals.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced a bill (H.R. 51) that would grant the statehood to the District of Columbia. The bill, which was passed last Congress by the House, has 202 original cosponsors. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “For a city with such a large African American population, this denial of representation echoes a broader history of the suppression of voting rights in our country.”

147 Republicans—8 senators and 139 representatives—voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona, Pennsylvania, or both, perpetuating lies told for months by Trump and his enablers in Congress and the right-wing media. They cast their votes hours after the deadly insurrection and attack on the Capitol fomented by those same lies.