AFT’s Weingarten to McConnell: Take Up HEROES Act Now

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[HEROES Act]
Weingarten: “It’s a dereliction of duty for Mitch McConnell to go on vacation in July without passing the federal investment our schools desperately need to safely reopen this fall...McConnell and Republican senators to take up the HEROES Act."
Photo: YouTube

The AFT is calling on the U.S. Senate and "Moscow Mitch" McConnell to pass the HEROES Act.

The American Federation of Teachers today launched a second $1 million TV and digital ad buy urging the Senate to return to Washington, D.C., and pass urgently needed funding so schools can reopen safely.

The AFT calculates that, in addition to the normal funding America’s schools would need to maintain basic educational programming, schools will require at least an additional $116.5 billion, or $1.2 million for the average school, to meet the public health, well-being and instructional needs of students, teachers and school staff in order to reopen safely. This investment would cover instructional staff, some form of hybrid distance learning, before- and after-school care, transportation, personal protective equipment, cleaning and health supplies, health staffing, custodial and cleaning staff, meeting children’s social and emotional needs, and additional academic support for students.

“It’s a dereliction of duty for Mitch McConnell to go on vacation in July without passing the federal investment our schools desperately need to safely reopen this fall,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“McConnell wasted no time when it came to bailing out big corporations, but when it comes to our schools and kids he’s abandoned them, their parents and their educators. For weeks, our members and parents have been pleading with McConnell and Republican senators to take up the HEROES Act. McConnell saying, while on recess, that he believes the Senate will act on something is not actually doing what kids and educators need. Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos demanding schools reopen but failing to produce a plan or the resources required is not doing what kids and educators need. Actions speak louder than words.”

“We can’t reopen the economy without reopening schools,” Weingarten said, “and we can’t reopen schools without the resources to do so safely. Educators and parents are working overtime to figure out a plan for our students, because we all want kids to be able to go back to school in the fall—in some cases, school should start in early August. But even those who care more about the GDP than they care about kids’ well-being must face reality: Parents are telling their employers they can’t reopen the economy further without reopening schools, and we can’t reopen schools without the resources and plans to keep students and staff safe from the virus. It’s time for Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to do their jobs, get back to Washington and pass emergency education funding, or we won’t be able to reopen our schools. The House of Representatives acted; Senate Democrats have great proposals that meet the needs of reopening schools; and parents, educators, health professionals, superintendents, mayors, governors and businesses are all in unison on the need for this funding. What will it take for McConnell and Senate Republicans to act?”

The ads also appearing on YouTube, will run for two weeks, starting Wednesday, on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in Washington, D.C., and 10 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They were produced by AL Media.

This follows a $1 million ad campaign launched in June featuring AFT members feeding our students and helping them learn amid the pandemic; the ads focused on what was at stake if the Senate failed to act to fund states, cities, towns and schools and keep frontline workers on the job educating kids and keeping communities safe and healthy. These ad buys have happened in conjunction with grass-roots actions by educators, parents and communities in these states and with the AFT’s April release of a scientifically backed plan to safely reopen schools.

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