Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has joined four other lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce last Friday a package of education bills to reopen and rebuild U.S. schools, save educators’ jobs, and help students recover lost time in the classroom.
The Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act, introduced with Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), the Save Education Jobs Act introduced with Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), and the Learning Recovery Act, introduced with Sablan and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), are part of the House Committee on Education and Labor’s response to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, educators, and parents. The committee is chaired by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03).
“Prior to the pandemic, our education system was suffering from crumbling infrastructure, understaffed schools, and widening achievement gaps. Now, after an unprecedented disruption in students’ lives as a result of the pandemic, we are seeing existing inequities exacerbated,” said Scott. “The package of bills introduced [Friday] reflects our commitment to helping students, educators, and parents overcome the pandemic, reopen our schools, and finally access a quality, public education.”
Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021
The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021 invests $130 billion—targeted at high-poverty schools—to help reopen public schools and provide students and educators a safe place to learn and work. In addition to helping students get back to school, the bill will also create over two million jobs during a time of widespread unemployment.
“My top priorities in Congress have always been jobs, education, and security, and all three are addressed in the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Investing in our nation’s public schools will create good-paying jobs, improve educational outcomes and ensure that students learn in state-of-the-art buildings that are safe and secure,” said Norcross. “Long before this pandemic, our schools were all in dire need of repair, and now as our nation fights COVID-19 the need to rebuild has never been greater. As public officials, it is our duty to protect our children, fight for their futures and deliver high-quality education regardless of their zip code—and this bill does just that.”
Save Education Jobs Act of 2021
Since February of last year, more K-12 education jobs have been lost than nearly all of the local education jobs lost during the Great Recession. On top of that, states are facing a $555 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. Without sufficient funding from the federal government to support states and school districts during the recovery, experts estimate 1.4 million to 1.9 million education jobs will be lost over the next one to two years alone. The Save Education Jobs Act of 2021 would establish an Education Jobs Fund to stabilize the education workforce, delivering up to $261 billion to states and school districts over 10 years.
“Despite the heroic work of our educators, we know that COVID-19 has undone months of academic gains, exacerbated existing disparities, increased student mental health needs, and left far too many students behind,” said Hayes. “The cuts we are already seeing throughout the country, and can expect to continue seeing in the future, are devastating for students and the future of public education. We need to invest in more supports, not less, to ensure that schools can meet these needs and challenges during and after the pandemic. Teacher job losses have long lasting impacts on the quality and efficacy of learning in our communities, and only further entrench growing disparities in our highest need districts. It is time the federal government uphold its responsibility for students and recognize the urgency of this moment.”
Learning Recovery Act of 2021
Left unaddressed, lost classroom time will have long-term effects on students’ success and on the U.S. economy as a whole. Researchers estimate that by 2040, the lost time in the classroom for the current K-12 cohort will result in an earnings loss of $110 billion per year and will reduce overall gross domestic product by $173 billion to $271 billion per year. The Learning Recovery Act of 2021 provides $75 billion over two years via Title I-A to build out summer school, extend school days, or extend schools programs.
“The pandemic has widened the divide where our students in Title I schools, those with the least resources, have suffered the greatest learning challenges and losses. We must not abandon these children. Additional Title I funding is essential to set our schools on a path towards equitable recovery. With love and concern for our children, I am proud to co-lead the Learning Recovery Act with Chairman Bobby Scott to extend learning opportunities,” said Ledger Fernandez.
“America’s students continue to lose precious months of quality instruction to the coronavirus crisis. This loss is only widening the achievement gap and disparities between school districts that existed well before the pandemic,” said Sablan. “The Learning Recovery Act provides funding that schools facing severe budget cuts need to address these challenges whether it be extended school years, school days, or summer school to recover the lost learning time. And the Act mandates a federal study on the learning loss crisis because our nation as a whole must fully understand its impact and possible solutions.” (PR)