COVID-19's Impact on the Education Profession
NEA Predicts 20 Percent Decline in Education Workforce
- By Dian Schaffhauser
largest labor union in the country, the National
has estimated that the United States could lose 1.9 million education
jobs unless Congress delivers additional funding for states and
localities to bolster support for schools.
arrive at its count, NEA analyzed the outcome on state revenues over
three fiscal years — 2020, 2021 and 2022 — and the corresponding effect
the expected decline of $765 billion would have on the ability of
states to fund public education. Without additional federal emergency
aid, NEA stated, state general fund revenues in support of education
could fall by about $200 billion. As a result, about a fifth of the
education workforce would lose jobs, after accounting for the use of
state rainy day funds and funding available under the CARES
analysis was done in part to put pressure on the
Republican-controlled Senate to sign on for the HEROES
House-approved initiative to provide additional public relief funds
in response to the impact of COVID-19. NEA leans left, spending most
of its political campaign dollars to support Democratic candidates.
HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions)
Act, which passed the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of
Representatives in mid-May, would help stem some of the state revenue
shortfall, the union reported. The Act also includes $915 billion in
direct relief for state and local governments that could be used to
pay workers deemed vital, such as educators. It also provides for $90
billion in additional funding for support of elementary, secondary
and postsecondary education. However, NEA estimated, even that much
would only protect 800,000 education jobs, about 673,000 in K-12 and
153,000 in higher ed.
NEA issued a letter
with a June 10 Senate hearing, "Going Back to School Safely."
"To reopen schools safely, we will need to provide personal
protective equipment (PPE) for students and educators; modify
classrooms, cafeterias and school buses to permit social distancing;
intensify instruction and support for students traumatized by the
impact of the coronavirus on their families and communities; and
more," the union stated. "Doing so will require significant
investments at a time when schools are facing budget cuts that are
expected to far exceed those during the Great Recession."
its comments, NEA urged Congress to provide at least $175 billion
more for the Education Stabilization Fund, $56 million in directed
funding for protective equipment and $4 billion to create a special
fund, administered by the E-rate program, to equip students with hot
spots and computing devices.
American economy cannot recover if schools can't reopen, and we
cannot properly reopen schools if funding is slashed and students
don't have what they need to be safe, learn and succeed," said
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, in a statement. "Congress
must put aside partisanship and take immediate action to save
millions of jobs and ensure students don't pay the price if states
are forced to make deeps cuts to education funding."
state-by-state analysis of the impact of the HEROES Act on school
funding is openly available through
the NEA website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.