Senator Booker Proposes $260 Billion Fund to Re-Hire and Keep Educators Employed, Boost Schools’ Response to COVID-19, and Serve Students
According to the Economic Policy Institute, 468,800 jobs in public school employment were lost in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that will provide state and local school districts with more than $260 billion of additional federal aid to better serve students and support teachers during the pandemic. Specifically, the Educator Jobs Fund Act of 2020 will appropriate federal funding for a new educator jobs fund to create jobs and recruit and train educators, ensuring education equity, more personal protective equipment in schools, and grants for partnerships, institutions, and teacher and school leader preparation programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit school budgets hard. While the CARES Act provided crucial relief for K-12 schools, the funding it provided only accounted for less than 2% of public education funding for the current school year. Further, states have had to resort to measures like tapping reserve accounts, delaying spending on specific activities, or even delaying payments to districts.
With states’ revenues being unpredictable due to the pandemic, federal funding will be key to ensuring that schools have the proper resources to operate and provide a quality education to each and every one of its students.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing difficulties our educators face, especially when it comes to getting the support, preparation and training they need to serve their students effectively,” said Senator Booker. “The Educator Jobs Fund Act of 2020 will empower school districts to better support and recruit a diverse educator workforce, serve the most vulnerable students and help to protect the health and safety of students and educators during this crisis.”
“We thank Sen. Booker for putting forward the Educators Jobs Fund bill to ensure that our public schools will have the resources and the people necessary to provide students with the best possible education during this challenging time,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “This vital legislation would help address teacher shortages with a focus on schools that serve those most in need. It would also provide much-needed funds for personal protective equipment, as well as grants for teacher and school leader preparation programs. NJEA supports Sen. Booker’s efforts to address this critical issue because all students deserve an excellent education and a healthy and safe learning environment.”
“Teach Plus applauds Senator Booker’s introduction of the Educator Jobs Fund Act,” said President and CEO, Roberto Rodríguez. “Over the course of this pandemic, teachers have been the front line responders to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students. The Senate should act now to take up Senator Booker’s proposal, and provide the assistance our schools need to keep our teachers on the job, supporting the success and wellbeing of our students.”
“Even before the pandemic, 1 in 5 principals were leaving their school each year, according to research from NASSP and the Learning Policy Institute (LPI). And now, 45 percent of them report that the pandemic is accelerating their departure plans,” said NASSAP CEO, JoAnn Bartoletti. “They foresee teachers leaving in greater numbers, with no pipeline to fill those position and no solution in sight. Senator Booker and his colleagues recognize that students-many of whom are dealing with loss and anxiety-need a well-prepared, stable educator workforce now more than ever. For the sake of those students, we are proud to support the Educator Jobs Fund Act as a means to provide federal support to sustain and continue to develop educator talent throughout and beyond the pandemic crisis.”
The Educator Jobs Fund Act of 2020 will:
- Create and Fund a New “Educator Jobs Fund”– The bill creates a new $260 billion grant program to pay the salaries and benefits of teachers, school leaders, and other school personnel. Funding can be used to recall or rehire former employees, retain existing employees, or hire new employees in order to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational related services.
- Create a New PPE Fund– The bill creates a new $30 million fund so schools can purchase sanitizing equipment, buy PPE, hire staff to implement safety protocols, purchase other materials, or pay for staffing necessary to maintain student and educator safety from COVID-19.
- Create New Grants for Diversification of the Teaching Profession– The bill provides $30 million for grants to establish teacher and school leader residency programs, $35 million for grants to eligible Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and $35 million for grants for teacher and school leader preparation programs at Minority Serving Institutions.
- Protect Education Equity – The bill also requires states to assure that they will maintain their commitment to funding low-income schools and that they won’t use new funds from the Educator Jobs Fund to in turn reduce state support for these schools.
The Educator Job Fund Act is endorsed by National Education Association, National Council for Teachers of English, Public Advocacy for Kids, National Association for Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, ASCD, PDK International, Teach Plus, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, TNTP, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Council for Exceptional Children, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
The full text of the bill can be downloaded here.