WASHINGTON – As President-elect Joe Biden’s administration begins to take shape, the National Education Association today released NEA’s Policy Playbook, which spells out what educators would like to see from a new administration to expand opportunities for our students and strengthen public schools.
“Educators are looking forward to partnering with the Biden-Harris administration to expand opportunities for all students – Black and white, Native and newcomer, Hispanic and Asian alike – lead our nation past the COVID-19 crisis, build our economy back better and more equitable for all Americans, and dismantle the systemic racism in our country which has kept too many Black, Brown, and Native students from reaching their full potential,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “As the educators who have long stood in the gaps where our institutions have failed our students, we know that a new secretary of education alone can’t tackle the many issues facing students, educators, and parents, which is why NEA is working with the Biden team to ensure that the support our students need is prioritized across the new administration.”
NEA’s 54-page Policy Playbook spells out across 27 subject areas the policies needed to best support students, educators, and working families.
Priority issues that will benefit the lives of every student, parent, educator, and community directly include:
- Providing COVID-19 Relief: Since the outbreak of this pandemic, educators have gone to great lengths to help their students continue to learn. From our teachers, who switched to remote learning practically overnight, to our education support professionals – including our custodial staff who have kept buildings sanitized and food service workers who have fed students in need at their homes and in school – our nation’s educators have worked tirelessly for our students. But over the last year, the twin crises of the pandemic and economic recession have brought to bear vast differences in economic and educational opportunity for our students. The country has witnessed the devastation of this pandemic on historically marginalized communities that face heightened and unique challenges sustained by systemic racism, classism, and inadequate funding of their schools.
To ensure our students can keep learning – especially in the Black, Brown, and Native communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and whose schools have been chronically underfunded for too long – we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and Congressional leaders to provide our students with the resources they need. That includes:
- The funding and guidance our schools need to reopen school buildings and campuses safely, purchase the PPE and cleaning supplies needed, and improve ventilation systems in classrooms,
- Help for the 15 to 16 million students without the high-speed internet and technology they need to participate in virtual learning,
- And budget support so the 835,700 educators who have been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic can be rehired, to ensure our students have the support they need.
- Expanding and Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: We look to working with the Biden-Harris administration to expand and simplify the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs, which enable college graduates to pursue careers in education and public service. Expanding and aligning the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program with Public Service Loan Forgiveness would broaden those who qualify to include educators teaching all subject areas in public schools and working in all job categories in public education; all faculty, including contingent, and staff in higher education; and other education job categories. The new secretary of education should seek to cancel educators’ student loan debt using all available tools and correct the current administrative deficiencies in the PSLF program.
- Fighting for Racial, Social, and Education Justice: The country needs an unadulterated national repudiation of white supremacist culture, and we expect the administration to reaffirm to all families – especially Native People, People of Color, and members of the LGBTQ community – that no haven exists for hate crimes, white supremacy, and anti-immigrant policies. That is why we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to restore civil rights protections gutted by Betsy DeVos and resolve funding inequities by providing more resources to students and communities with the greatest needs.