Children in elementary school wearing masks enter a classroom with desks spaced apart as per coronavirus guidelines during summer school sessions in Monterey Park, Calif. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
The American Federation of Teachers on Monday warned Congress that 1.4 million public education jobs could be at risk if it doesn't move to prioritize funding for state and local governments in its next coronavirus stimulus package.
Why it matters: The call from the nation's second-largest largest teachers' union comes as Congress is set to begin negotiations on its "phase 4" coronavirus relief package — and there's no clear consensus between Democrats and Republicans regarding the inclusion of state and local relief in that bill.
By the numbers: The AFT's report identifies a $93.5 billion funding gap in PreK-12 education, and $45 billion in shortfalls in higher education funding caused by the coronavirus recession.
- It also says that another $116.5 billion would be needed in order to give schools and colleges necessary equipment to prevent virus spread, like masks, Plexiglas and hand-washing stations.
What they're saying: "Our nation is at a critical crossroad, and the decisions Congress and the president make in the next two weeks will be felt for generations to come," said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a news release.
- "If Congress fails to act now, millions more American workers will be relegated to the unemployment lines and a generation of students will be added to the coronavirus toll. This time it’s foreseeable, and those who refuse to act will bear the consequences.”