The American Federation of Teachers has cautioned that the next coronavirus stimulus package needs to include adequate funding for teachers or else that close to 1.4 million jobs could be eliminated.
“Our nation is at a critical crossroad, and the decisions Congress and the president make in the next two weeks will be felt for generations to come,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a press release.
The report arrived as the Senate makes plans for the next coronavirus spending package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has encouraged his colleagues to approve the bill before Congressional recess begins in August. Last week, he said his fellow lawmakers in the Senate are working to get more funding for the upcoming school fall semester.
“I think all the evidence indicates that distance-learning for kids is not as good. They’ve already lost part of the last semester; we need to find a way to safely get back to work,” McConnell said.
The House approved the Heroes Act in May, which would give $100 billion to the Department of Education to provide schools funding for coronavirus responses. The Republican-led Senate isn't expected to accept the legislation.
The AFT report has pinpointed $93.5 billion in budget shortfalls for K through 12 and $45 billion for colleges and universities. That could lead to 962,000 in job losses for K through 12 and 394,000 in higher education.
“To safely reopen schools and address the critical health and safety needs of educators and students — i.e., to provide for safe social distancing, masks, hand-washing stations, cleaning supplies, test kits and other measures to make sure schools do not become incubators of virus spread — schools will need significant federal resources on top of what states can provide,” the report said.
Weingarten said that not getting this funding could endanger a generation of students.
“If Congress fails to act now, millions more American workers will be relegated to the unemployment lines, and a generation of students will be added to the coronavirus toll,” she said.
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