Congress needs to act now to stabilize and support schools and learning

The Coronavirus economic shutdowns are threatening the financial stability of schools across the country. The future of school library programs and school librarian positions are tied directly to the financial health of their local districts. In the decade since the last recession, one in five full-time school librarian jobs were lost. Districts serving high numbers of poor and minority students were particularly hard hit.

Just one dollar per month ensures that we can continue our work!

EveryLibrary and our partners are fighting in numerous states to save school librarians and ensure access to school libraries for all students. While we are fighting district-by-district to ensure that every student has access to a school library staffed with a state-certified school librarian, we know very clearly that schools need stable and adequate funding to reopen properly this fall. The real solution for educational funding shortfalls during COVD lies with Congress and the state legislatures.

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That is why we are backing the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA). In March 2020, the CARES Act provided $30 billion in stabilization funds for education. A number of issues for schools have come into focus since that disaster response bill. In July, Senator Murray (D-WA) proposed CCCERA to provide $430 billion in stabilization funds for schools and districts, child care, E-rate, and higher ed. State education agencies would receive $175 billion to put to work across individual districts. Governors would be allocated $33 billion to address immediate crises. According to analysis by the Alliance for Education, “in order to receive funds, states would need to promise to maintain their own education spending for three years and to use funds to supplement, not supplant, state and local dollars. These requirements would help make sure federal funds do more than backfill state cuts.”  Higher education would see $132 billion to help campuses reopen and deliver blended learning programs. 

The rapid move to digital education has exposed massive inequities between families and across districts for distance learning. The CCCERA would provide $4 billion to libraries and schools to help bridge this divide with much-needed digital infrastructure hardware for families. The bill establishes the Emergency Connectivity Fund inside the FCC to allow libraries and schools to purchase telecommunications equipment or services like Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, and routers for use by students, staff, or patrons - especially those who do not have access to such equipment or services - at home. 

School districts around the country need smart stabilization funds and adequate financial relief to support our students, their families, and our educators. Historically underserved students in Title I schools, homeless children and youth, English Language Learners, and students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and for IDEA would all see improved funding and support if the CCCERA passes. Access to safe, quality childcare is absolutely essential for parents to get back to work and for our economy to recover. The CCCERA would provide $50 billion in grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care providers and support providers to safely reopen and operate.

School librarians are important partners for students and their families in the learning equation. But without stable funding at the district and school level, their jobs are at risk. The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act would help ensure that states continue to fund education and provide critical supplemental funding to ensure stability and continuation of services. Congress needs to act now to stabilize and support school districts, higher education, and the future of learning.