In his address Thursday night, President-elect Joe Biden said, “We cannot afford inaction,” as he laid out his $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plans for a nation deep in the throes of a pandemic that is getting deadlier by the day. Biden called for $170 billion to get U.S. children and teachers back in the classroom.
“We’ll also do everything we can to keep our educators and students safe to safely reopen a majority of our K-8 schools by the end of the first 100 days. We can do this if we give the school districts, the schools themselves, the communities, and the states, the clear guidance they need, as well as the resources they need that they can’t afford right now because of the economic dilemma they’re in. That means more testing and transportation, additional cleaning and sanitizing services in those schools, protective equipment, and ventilation systems in those schools.”
Biden also noted that 600,000 U.S. educators have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and noted that vaccinations are essential in order to open U.S. schools.
“Millions of people are putting their lives at risk. They are the very people now at risk of losing their jobs. Police officers, firefighters, all first responders, nurses, educators. Over the last year alone, over 600,000 educators lost their jobs in our cities and towns. Our rescue plan will provide emergency funding to keep these essential workers on the job and maintain essential services. We’ll ensure that vaccines are administered and schools can reopen.”
Following the speech, National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle thanked the president-elect for his leadership.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis continues to ravage communities across the nation - disproportionately impacting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities – we appreciate President-elect Biden answering our call for more equitable resources and the science-based guidance and programs that all our public schools need to support students and to return to in-person learning,” she said in a statement.
“Making these necessary investments is the only way to ensure that school buildings and campuses are reopened in a safe and equitable manner and that all students have what they need to thrive. As educators, we have long stood in the gaps where our institutions and policymakers have failed our students – dedicating our lives to helping them succeed when others have overlooked or ignored their needs. We see firsthand how issues such as hunger and housing insecurity impact our students and their ability to learn, and we see how the economic crisis has impacted them and their families, particularly in rural, urban, and poor communities. We applaud President-elect Biden’s plan to deliver immediate relief for our students and working families, making investments to help build back better, stronger, and more equitable communities,” she said.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.