Congresswoman Jahana Hayes introduced the Save Education Jobs Act of 2021, legislation to save nearly 4 million education jobs, spur economic growth in the midst of an economic crisis, and help mitigate the impacts of students’ learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Connecticut Education Association, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut, and Sandy Hook Promise all endorse this bill.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more K-12 jobs have been lost than nearly all of the local education jobs lost during the entire Great Recession. Additionally, 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. Connecticut is expected to lose at least 9.6% of its education workforce – resulting in nearly four thousand critical job losses to the state’s public education system. Many of these jobs include education support staff. These professionals help to provide mental health services for students, deliver nutritious meals and health care, transport students to school safely, clean and sanitize schools, and contribute to social and emotional learning. These jobs must be protected to ensure schools remain the same robust and holistic centers of learning on the other side of this pandemic and recession.
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. Ninety percent of the funding from this bill would go towards saving the jobs of teachers, school leaders, school psychologists, social workers, nurses, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, librarians, and more from inevitable budget cuts because of the COVID-19 crisis. Local school districts can also use this funding to hire more teachers to meet their increased need during the unprecedented transition to hybrid or distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining ten percent of the funding could be used to support teacher professional development, support educators, and provide mental health services, preventing further erosion of the workforce. The bill also includes a provision to safeguard and promote equity, by ensuring continued funding for high poverty school districts.
Not only does the Save Education Jobs Act of 2021 help to save jobs in the short term, it will help reduce the long-term economic impact of learning loss. Researchers estimate that by 2040, learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic 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. By helping save education jobs, this legislation will help schools reopen safely, prevent permanent learning loss, and prevent disparities in school districts from being further entrenched.
“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 Congresswoman 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.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congresswoman Hayes has been fighting for increased resources for K-12 schools to ensure students and teachers are safe. Congresswoman Hayes supported the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included $13.5 billion in funding to support online learning, purchase computers and internet access, support educational and related services for children with disabilities, provide mental health services and sanitize school buildings. The CARES Act brought back $1.382 million for schools in Connecticut.
In December, Congresswoman Hayes helped to pass a relief package that would send $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms.
Congresswoman Hayes also helped to pass the HEROES Act, which would provide $915 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments, which are facing budget shortfalls that could lead to mass teacher layoffs and deep cuts to public education. The HEROES Act would save hundreds of thousands of jobs and help avert devastating cuts to funding for public education. The bill also invests more than $100 billion in direct emergency funding for students and schools to help continue delivering instruction, maintain school employment, and support teachers with professional development.
The Save Education Jobs Act of 2021 is endorsed by: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, American Federation of School Administrators, American Library Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Association of University Centers on Disability, BellXcel and Sperling Center for Research and Innovation, Committee for Children, Connecticut Education Association, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council for Learning Disabilities, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Education Trust, EDGE Consulting Partners, Educators for Excellence, GLSEN, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, International Society for Technology in Education, KaBOOM!, National Alliance of Specialized Instructional Support Personnel, National Association of Pupil Services Administrators, National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, National Council for Languages and International Studies, National Education Association, National Science Teaching Association, National Superintendents Roundtable, Next100, PDK International, [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC), San Diego Unified School District School, Sandy Hook Promise, Social Work Association of America, Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America), State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education, State Educational Technology Directors Association, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, and Teach Plus.