The US government is trying to fix its educational system, but some teachers say the federal government doesn’t have the money to fix it.
The US Department of Education (DOE) says the federal funds it has promised to make up for the loss of state funding will come from federal grants.
But teachers’ unions and other teachers say that isn’t enough.
In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Education Labor Action Network, or ELAN, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) say that without federal support, the federal support DOE is seeking will be “not enough” to get every teacher who is eligible for a federal grant.
The letter was signed by more than 100 teachers, academics, educators and educators-in-waiting from across the country, including many from states where state funding for public education is low.
“This letter is a call to action,” said Rachel Bork, ELAN president and CEO.
“We need to be asking for help, because the federal dollars are not enough.”
ELAN and the AFT also call on DeVos to use her new budget to increase the federal aid available to low-income students, teachers, and families, and to extend the federal education loan forgiveness program.
But DeVos hasn’t announced how much money she will raise to fund these and other initiatives.
The DOE has long said it wants to make a significant investment in education, and this letter is an opportunity for the federal administration to clarify what that investment looks like.
The Department of Labor (DOL) is also currently spending millions of dollars on education grants and loans.
In July, DeVos announced a new “new school year” initiative, which was supposed to address a number of challenges facing students, families, educators, and students.
But the initiative was delayed for months because of budget concerns.
This letter, along with other petitions, are urging DeVos to do a much better job of funding the schools that students and families need.
The DOE says that with federal money, the state will receive up to $1.3 billion in grants in the 2019-20 school year.
That’s enough to make the schools “safe, nurturing, and supportive for every student.”
But ELAN says the money will not go to all students, and instead, it will go to students who qualify for grants.
ELAN also argues that the DOE’s proposed $1,000 federal grant to states and cities for new classrooms is inadequate.
Education Secretary Betsy Trump addresses the media at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 24, 2021.
DeVos’ budget request for 2019-2020 includes $1 billion in aid for schools, but she has not specified how much funding to allocate to schools.
She has also not announced how the DOE will spend the money.
ELAN says that, without federal funding, the states will receive “up to $919 million in grant funds in 2019-21.”
ELANGLE has also asked DeVos to extend loans for public school teachers, because many of these teachers rely on state and local aid for their livelihoods.
ELANGLES letter says that teachers who are on federal loans can’t qualify for state grants, and that “the DOE’s recent actions are inconsistent with the law and are unlikely to help the teachers who need them the most.”
The Education Labor Alliance says that the loan forgiveness programs for public-school teachers are “an essential tool” to help struggling teachers find work and maintain their health insurance.
ELANCES also has called on DeVos “to help ensure that all eligible teachers receive adequate financial support to keep their jobs.”
The DOE says the grants and loan programs it is proposing will not fund teachers who have had their employment protections or job security eliminated because of the Great Recession.
It’s important to note that the letter comes as the Trump administration is trying for the first time to enact a national education policy.
ELANS letter is also the latest sign that the Trump White House is seeking to create an “education welfare” government.
In April, DeVos said she was considering a national system of “educational and social welfare” that would include federal funding.
But her proposal has been criticized by some education advocates who argue it’s not enough.
“The government doesn�t have the ability to provide everything, especially the resources needed to ensure a well-educated workforce,” Bork said.
For many, this is an election year, but the education issue is far from over.
Follow Dave Rubin on Twitter at @DaveRubinDC