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Speaking Out for Our Students to our Congressional Delegation

05/10/2021
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Educators stood together to elect a pro-education, pro-labor congressional delegation, and now we’re making sure they take our messages to Washington, D.C. about how to make public schools even better. WEA members are meeting with our congressional delegation in virtual town halls and small groups to share our stories about what our students and our schools need in these challenging times. 

NEA Super Week 

As part of the National Education Association, WEA members have a strong voice for our students in Washington, D.C.  During NEA’s annual “Super Week” meetings, our elected NEA board directors connected with our congressional delegation.  Washington’s NEA Board Directors have used these meetings to raise key issues including healthy school lunches, healthy buildings, and transgender equity in schools.   

"Being able to use my voice both statewide and nationally regarding what is important for our students (especially our BIPOC students) is crucial and imperative as they are our future and that they DO matter,” said Pamella Johnson, an ESP in Rochester and NEA board director. “Being able to address their social emotional learning is indispensable as we need to ensure that they are equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead of them.  This will only happen as we continue to voice these needs for them as well as our union members." 

Funds for COVID relief 

It takes more, not less, to educate our students during a pandemic and WEA leaders made sure to share with our congressional delegation the exceptional needs of our schools, whether K-12 or higher education. We told lawmakers that our schools need funds for HVAC and building upgrades, and that we need federal funds that are flexible enough for local school districts to use them to address their unique needs.  We also told our delegation that providing educators access to covid vaccines was an essential element of any plan to return to broad in-person learning. 

Our conversations made a difference.  Congress passed two COVID-19 relief bills in 2020-2021 that included significant funding for our schools with the flexibility needed to address local issues.  We also received considerable support from pediatrician and Rep. Kim Schreier in speaking up for educator access to vaccines, which were mandated by President Biden in March. 

Protecting workers’ rights 

Our ability to advocate for our students and our professions depends on our strong union. Many members of Congress recognize that our labor union laws are outdated and ineffective as a means for working people to have our voices heard.  To strengthen workers’ rights, lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.   The PRO Act will empower America’s workers and make America’s economy work for working people.   

Educators are taking action to strengthen workers’ rights in our community.  This bill has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.  Click here to call our Senators and ask them to pass the PRO Act. 

Join WEA-PAC, NEA Fund to support pro-education, pro-labor candidates 

To move forward the changes we need to make public education even better, we need pro-labor, pro-education lawmakers who understand our issues.  That’s why WEA members support WEA-PAC and the NEA fund, the funds that recommend and help elect candidates to office who will uphold our values.  To contribute to WEA-PAC, click here. This money goes directly to supporting pro-education, pro-labor candidates in Washington state and local races.  For national races, the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education supports candidates who support education.  Donate to the NEA Fund here.   It is our work together that will continue to allow us to be successful in years to come.   

Posted in: Legislative Issues
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