Educators Urge Congress for Immediate and Flexible Funding for Schools

With so many ambivalent about starting the academic year during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is certain: our schools need more aid. Schools across the country are hesitantly opening their doors, all with substantial need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and emergency payroll protections. Districts conducting remote learning also require adequate technologies to keep students connected from home. 

The American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) and 19 other educational organizations sent a letter to House leadership advocating for immediate and discretionary relief. This past week, the House released a revised HEROES Act, which includes more than $175 billion for K12 schools. 

AFSA and other educational leaders stipulate that funds should go toward the following five provisions: 

1. Emergency Funding Directly to States to Support Local Education Agencies: Funds from the CARES Act took months to reach school districts; we cannot afford such latency. The $175 billion must go immediately to state governments to expand education budgets quickly and efficiently. 

2. Support for Federal Categorical Programs: There’s no denying that the pandemic has disproportionately affected low-income families and students with disabilities. To address these disparities, Congress must allocate $13 billion to IDEA and $12 billion to Title I. 

3. Emergency Funding for Remote Learning: Some 3.7 million students still lack consistent internet access. Congress must invest at least $12 billion in expanding connectivity via the E-rate program in the HEROES Act, making at-home learning possible for millions and decreasing the “homework gap.”  

4. Infrastructure Funding Must Include Explicit Support for Schools: The federal relief package should include funds for modernizing schools, particularly to improve ventilation systems that lessen the spread of COVID-19. 

5. Recognize School Districts As Employers; Include Public Employers in Payroll Tax Credit: Given that public schools are the nation’s largest employer, they should be made eligible for the same payroll tax credits as small businesses and nonprofits. Our hardworking educators deserve emergency payroll protections in the event they or a family member falls ill. 

What you can do to help

As school administrators, we have a responsibility to our students, their families and our community. Write your national representatives, imploring them to include these key five provisions, and to pass the HEROES Act as quickly as possible. Our schools can’t wait any longer.