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Letter to the U.S. Senate from Roberto Rodríguez on prioritizing education funding

June 1, 2020
 
Senator Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Richard Shelby
Chairman
Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Patrick Leahy
Vice Chairman
Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Lamar Alexander
Chairman
Health, Education & Pensions Committee
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Health, Education & Pensions Committee
Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Senators,

Teach Plus is a national teacher leadership organization working to empower more than 18,000 excellent, experienced and diverse teacher leaders across the country to shape key policy and practice issues that will advance equity, opportunity and student success.  Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our teacher leaders have shared heartbreaking stories of hardship and loss in their communities, as well as the impact of lost instructional time affecting their students.  Teachers regularly place the needs of their students above all else.  Yet, during this unprecedented pandemic, no amount of dedication or ingenuity on the part of educators can compensate for the deep budget cuts that school districts and institutions of higher education will face as they plan for the 2020-21 academic year.   

On behalf of Teach Plus, I am writing to ask the Senate to prioritize education funding as states work to stabilize budgets and minimize economic and educational harm, preparing for the return of millions of students to school and college campuses this fall.  Specifically, we are requesting $500 billion in state stabilization funding -- consistent with the recent request from state leaders -- with a significant proportional amount directed toward K-12 and higher education relief.  This includes:

  • At least $175 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund to prevent significant budget and staffing cuts in K-12 education, just as students’ academic needs are increasing; 
  • $50 billion for public institutions of higher education and minority-serving institutions;
  • $4 billion for the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E-rate program so that teachers can provide remote learning opportunities for the millions of K-12 students who lack internet access and access to on-line learning at home;  
  • A significant expansion of nutrition assistance programs for students and families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Additional funding for expanded learning opportunities to help students make up for lost learning time experienced during COVID-19 school closures; and  
  • Additional funding to prioritize the academic, social-emotional, and other needs experienced by students most impacted by COVID-19 and its related economic fallout, as they return for the 2020-21 school year.  

As lawmakers consider this funding request, it is essential that funds are allocated equitably, with an emphasis on the highest need students who are disproportionately impacted by this health, economic, and educational crisis.  We also request any supplemental legislation include a strong maintenance of effort requirement, in order to prevent inequitable impacts on schools and institutions of higher education serving a disproportionate share of economically disadvantaged students. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and for your continued support of our nation’s students, educators and schools during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Roberto Rodríguez
President & CEO
Teach Plus