Heidi May Wilson, Senior Manager, Media Relations
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (July 28, 2020)—The following statement can be attributed to National PTA President Leslie Boggs:
“For months, National PTA has been calling on Congress to provide more emergency funding to K-12 public schools to help address challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we appreciate that the Senate has included some funding for education in its Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, it does not go far enough. Congressional leaders must come together and provide a robust investment in our nation’s public schools to ensure the safety of and continued learning opportunities for all students.
“While the designation of $105 billion to help K-12 schools reopen is a start in the proposal, we are dismayed that two-thirds of this funding is being conditioned on the physical reopening of schools. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and we cannot downplay the critical nature of the virus. The number one priority of all parents is the health and safety of their children, and it is essential that students, educators and school personnel return to school in the safest way possible. Plans for reopening must account for the current impact of the virus on individual communities; follow guidance from health practitioners, infectious disease doctors and public health experts; and include input from parents, families, students, educators and school employees. Significant, new federal resources must be provided for schools to safely and effectively reopen, regardless of whether they begin the year in person, remotely or a hybrid combination.
“Furthermore, we are disappointed that the proposal provides billions of public dollars to private schools. Public dollars must remain in public schools. Our public schools are already woefully under-resourced, and federal funds must not be diverted to any private school proposal and/or voucher system.
“We are also disappointed that the bill does not include dedicated funding for remote learning, a request National PTA has been making for months. It is unacceptable that Congress is not providing needed resources to connect students and teachers to the internet as a large majority of schools have already announced plans to conduct remote learning or a hybrid combination to start the school year.
“Our association again calls on Congress to invest at least $175 billion for K-12 education to ensure that students can keep learning and schools can reopen for in-person instruction when it is safe to do so; provide $4 billion in dedicated resources to connect students to the internet through the E-rate program; provide emergency funding for family engagement; provide additional funding for students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and for students from low-income families through Title I; and increase funding for child nutrition programs to prevent, prepare for and respond to food insecurities related to the pandemic and help schools adapt to new food service and meal protocols as students go back to school.
“We remain committed to advocating to safeguard the health and safety of our nation’s children and make sure students, families and schools have what they need during this challenging time.”
As part of National PTA’s advocacy efforts, President Boggs testified last week before the U.S. House of Representatives Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee at a hearing titled, Underfunded & Unprepared: Examining How to Overcome Obstacles to Safely Reopen Schools. In her testimony, Boggs reiterated the critical need for additional resources to support students and their families, public schools, and the educators and staff that work in them. Boggs also reinforced National PTA’s opposition to the creation of any private school voucher program and/or other mechanism to funnel public dollars to private schools. To read Boggs’ testimony, visit https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/media/doc/BoggsLeslieTestimony072320201.pdf.
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.