For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Staci Maiers, NEA Communications,
smaiers@nea.org

Failed Mcconnell Bill Cared More About Lawsuits Than Keeping Kids Safe

Senate GOP took page out of DeVos playbook by sneaking in vouchers, privatization schemes

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s targeted and long-delayed coronavirus relief bill failed in the Senate today. The National Education Association—the nation’s largest union that represents 3 million educators, healthcare workers and public service employees—opposed the legislation.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:

At the beginning of every school year, educators typically ask their students what they did over the summer. Well, we know what Mitch McConnell did this summer: absolutely nothing but stall the HEROES Act, go on a prolonged summer vacation, and squander critical time to safely and equitably reopen school buildings and college campuses while a deadly pandemic and economic crisis wreaked havoc. After introducing another failed bill that couldn’t even pass in the Senate, where he controls a majority, McConnell shows he just isn’t serious about helping students, parents and educators who are grappling with life-or-death decisions.

It is glaringly clear that the McConnell’s primary focus is on shielding businesses and workplaces, including schools and college campuses, from lawsuits rather than protecting students, educators and their families. In fact, more than one-quarter of the package’s language is devoted to liability protections. Public schools and public college campuses receive scant attention. 

To add insult to injury, the majority of the bill’s education-related provisions take a page out of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s playbook by sneaking in vouchers and other privatization schemes that steal scarce funding from students in public schools, including one that would funnel taxpayer dollars into state tuition tax credit voucher programs, and another that would pervert the 529 program to boost well-off families who homeschool. These are the wrong priorities when the focus should be on measures to uplift those most in need—like providing funds to close the ‘digital divide’ and resulting ‘homework gap,’ which disproportionately affects Black, brown and indigenous students and means these students don’t have the technology they need for remote learning.

The chaos coming out of McConnell’s office multiplies the confusion Americans have experienced from Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, as they’ve proven they have no real plan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis or the shutdown of school buildings that are too unsafe to resume in-person learning. The stark reality is that the pandemic didn’t have to be this bad. Get it together, Mitch, because November is just around the corner.

More resources are available at www.nea.org/coronavirus
Follow on twitter at @NEAmedia and @BeckyPringle
Keep up with the conversation on social media at #DoYourJob #FundTheFrontLines #DemandSafeSchools

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

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