ATPE shares federal priorities with the Texas congressional delegation
School Finance Educator Preparation | Certification Retirement | TRS | Social Security Congress | Federal COVID-19 Testing | Accountability
Date Posted: 2/10/2021 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell
With the 117th Congress underway in Washington, D.C., ATPE is sharing our top federal priorities with lawmakers. In a letter delivered this week to members of the Texas congressional delegation, ATPE outlined several areas of focus, including public education funding, COVID-19 relief, and Social Security reforms.
ATPE is asking Congress to approve additional federal funding that schools can use to meet their unique circumstances in dealing with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also want to ensure public education funding flows through Title I formulas and cannot be redirected for private school vouchers. Schools need additional resources to keep their facilities sanitized, provide PPE for staff, and take other measures to ensure the safety of the learning environment. ATPE also wants Congress to extend and mandate paid sick and family medical leave benefits that expired in 2020. As explained in our letter, "This leave is vital as it helps prevent job loss for school employees who contract COVID, are forced to quarantine, or are caring for immune-compromised loved ones."
Testing and accountability requirements are also discussed in the letter. The Biden administration has given states additional time to apply for waivers of federal testing requirements. Although Texas officials so far have been unwilling to cancel STAAR tests this spring or signal any intent to seek waivers of the federal testing requirements, ATPE hopes Congress will support the waivers and any efforts to provide relief from burdensome testing and accountability mandates.
ATPE is also asking our U.S. Senate and House members to support additional funding for educator preparation as it considers the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Many HEA programs are vital for teacher recruitment and retention.
Last but not least, ATPE is urging the Texas congressional delegation to support and co-sponsor legislation that would reform the Social Security laws that negatively affect educators who receive a TRS pension. Bills to repeal and/or replace the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) would provide "much-needed relief to current and future retired teachers and other public servants in Texas."
Read one of ATPE's letters to Congress here.
ATPE members are encouraged to use Advocacy Central to call or write to their own U.S. House and Senate members urging them to take action on these issues. To learn more about the outlook for federal legislation this year, ATPE members can also register to attend ATPE at the Virtual Capitol, February 21, 2021, during which federal lobbyist David Pore will share updates and answer members' questions. Find out more and register for the event here.
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