We ask only what is right: equal opportunity for every student, every educator, every family.
Committed to Improving Student Achievement and Education Quality
Our students’ job is to learn, and our job is to make sure they can. Our democracy will flourish only when we ensure every school is fully funded, every child is treated with dignity, and every learner can pursue their passion. We must pass laws and policies that push forward the arc of justice–laws that protect all children’s access to a great public education, regardless of age, background, need, or zip code.
As a civilized society focused on the well-being of our children and their future, our priorities must result in:
Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success. When students feel that they are not welcome, their ability to learn and thrive is diminished. We can create schools where every student can learn, regardless of their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability.
All students have a right to a public education in a safe learning environment. But right now, many of our students are scared, anxious, and feeling threatened. We are hearing from students and educators around the country who are encountering hostile, hateful environments in their schools and communities, with fake deportation notices being handed out and swastikas drawn in bathrooms. We are being flooded with reports of hate speech and images directed at students in our schools. Nooses. Racist graffiti. Threats to our LGBTQ students. Headscarves being torn off. Girls being assaulted. Children are hearing that they are not welcome in their schools and even in the country they call home.
There is no place for this in our schools. Educators know that this isn’t about politics, but simply that every student deserves a safe, welcoming, affirming learning environment in a school that values them.
We embrace diversity and stand up to bias because we are stronger together.
ADEQUATE FUNDING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The only way to make sure all learners have the tools and schools they need to succeed is to properly fund every aspect of public education. NEA’s work to properly fund public education focuses on these key areas of action and investment. Take a look to learn more about how they work together to provide the best environment for our students.
SUPPORT FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
High-quality early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make. Comprehensive early childhood programs should be widely available and affordable for children from birth to age five–particularly for those from low-income families. Research shows that providing a high-quality education for children before they turn five yields significant medium- and long-term benefits for students. Children in early childhood education programs are:
- less likely to repeat a grade
- less likely to be identified as having special needs
- more prepared academically for later grades
- more likely to graduate from high school
- higher earners in the workforce.
But providing high-quality education for young children is also about racial and social justice. Access to effective, diverse programs breaks down structural barriers that have prevented all children–particularly children of color and children from disadvantaged families–from achieving their full potential.
That is why NEA is proud to join 15 national organizations in releasing the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession. For the first time ever, early childhood educators (ECEs) have collectively and clearly defined the standards, qualifications, roles, supports, and compensation for members of their profession working with children from birth through age 8.
Funds for improving school conditions are critical to providing an effective, equitable education for students. Far too much learning and teaching is happening in schools that pose health and safety risks to students and staff. Twenty-first century learning requires 21st century tools, classrooms, and schools. The United States spends more on public school facilities than any part of our infrastructure, except roads and highways.
Yet many of our public school buildings are poorly equipped or in poor physical condition—so poor it undermines student learning. In response, some educators have resorted to crowdfunding for school improvements. Our educators should be working with students, not finding funds.
If we’re committed to helping every child fulfill his or her potential, then we have to provide safe and modern learning environments for every student.
NEA fights for federal, state and local funding to ensure that every child, in every school district, has a school that is worthy of them.
CORRECTING UNACCEPTABLE SCHOOL CONDITIONS
National studies provide hard evidence that too many of our schools are in disrepair. They’ve found that:
- Half our public schools are more than 50 years old, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
- 24 percent of schools in permanent buildings and 31 percent of schools in temporary buildings are in “fair” or “poor” condition, according to NCES.
- More than half our public school facilities need significant repairs or replacement of multiple systems according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
- Nearly half our public schools have poor air quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, due to cockroaches, rodents, dust mites, fungi, and respiratory irritants.
- Many public schools, especially in rural areas, still do not have access to high-speed broadband sufficient for digital learning.
When we support school modernization funding, we take a step toward fulfilling the promise of providing an equal chance, through an equal education, for our children.
ACCESS TO NUTRITION PROGRAMS
Throughout the pandemic, school support staff continued to deliver meals to students across the state. Access to nutritious meals is key to ensuring the health and well-being of all students. Good nutrition is crucial to children performing well in school. National nutrition standards need to apply to all food sold on school campuses.
All students deserve regular, healthy meals so they can learn, grow, and succeed with their peers.
We need to take a holistic approach to guaranteeing all children, regardless of economic status or background, get the nutrition they need. This includes:
- protect the nutrition gains won through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act
- strengthening SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- enacting laws to prevent lunch shaming
- reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act
- making training accessible to more school cafeteria workers.
Together, these policies will ensure that students can access the food they need, when they need it–and focus on learning, not hunger.
Food is a need, not a want, and if we want kids to be able to concentrate and grow and be healthy and happy, we must see to it that they are fed.
WHY GOOD NUTRITION MATTERS FOR STUDENTS
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both emphasize the importance of good nutrition in children when it comes to performing well in school.
- Missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement. Hungry children have lower math scores, and are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss school entirely.
- Eating breakfast at school helps children perform better. Studies show that academic achievement among students who eat school breakfasts tends to rise, especially in math.
- Students who eat breakfast at school have better attendance records and exhibit fewer behavior and psychological problems. Schools report that offering all students free breakfast improves behavior and increases attentiveness.
- To be effective, nutrition standards must encompass all food sold in schools. While school meals must meet federal nutrition standards, foods sold individually outside meal programs, like those available in vending machines, are not required to meet comparable nutrition standards. Thus, students can purchase soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, salty snacks, candy, and high-fat baked goods throughout the school day. National nutrition standards must be established for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the day.
CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY
As taxpayer-funded schools, charter schools must be held to the same safeguards and high standards of accountability, transparency, oversight and equity as public schools.
First opening in Minnesota in 1992, charter schools are operated independently from the local school district but receive taxpayer dollars. They are exempted from some rules applicable to the traditional public school district.
The original intent of charter schools was to provide a space for educators to be more flexible and innovative in their curriculum and instructional practices. It was hoped that successful innovations could be adapted to benefit public education more broadly.
All schools that receive public funds should be held to the same excellence, equity, and transparency standards as public schools.
Too frequently, charters are operated expressly for profit, or are nominally non-profit but managed or operated by for-profit entities. The growth of charters has undermined local public schools and communities without producing any overall increase in student learning and growth.
NEA is committed to advocating for measures ensuring that all charter schools operate in a high-quality manner that is equitable, accountable, and transparent.
OPPOSING VOUCHERS IN ALL ITS FORMS
Vouchers, in all its forms, are harmful to the more than 90% of students who attend public schools in New Hampshire.
These programs hide behind euphemisms such as “Opportunity Scholarships,” “Tax Credit Scholarships,” “Education Savings Accounts,” and “Tuition Tax Credits,” but they all function the same way. Public funds intended for public schools are diverted to private schools. This means public school students have less access to music instruments and science equipment, modern technology and textbooks, and after-school programs.
Voucher supporters use terms with marketing appeal such as “personalized learning,” “opportunity scholarships,” and “parental choice” because they know the word voucher costs them public support.
Vouchers are any form of public payment to help parents send their children to private schools, including religious schools. They take the form of direct government payments to parents, tax credits parents can take for tuition payments, or “scholarships” from nonprofit organizations that receive donations for which the donors, in turn, receive a tax credit. These programs frequently support private schools that may discriminate against students and their families, and do not necessarily subsidize the full cost of private education for those students who are accepted.
There is ZERO statistical significance that voucher programs improve overall student success.
Some programs have even been shown to have a NEGATIVE effect for students receiving a voucher. Vouchers have been shown to not support students with disabilities, fail to protect the human and civil rights of students, and exacerbate segregation.
Vouchers were first created after the Supreme Court banned school segregation with its ruling in Brown v Board of Education. School districts used vouchers to enable white students to attend private schools, which could (and still can) limit admission based on race. As a result, the schools that served those white students were closed, and schools that served black students remained chronically underfunded. The pattern of discrimination continues with vouchers today. Unlike public schools, private schools can (and some do) limit their admission based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and any other number of factors. Vouchers rarely cover the full tuition, so families who were promised a better education are left footing the bill.
The absence of public accountability for voucher funds has contributed to rampant fraud, waste, and abuse in current voucher programs.
Despite claims to the contrary, voucher schemes actually increase school funding costs, by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private. The result is that public schools, which educate 90 percent of students, wind up with less funding. This leads to larger class sizes and fewer resources, such as textbooks, school nurses and counselors, lab equipment, and music and athletic programs.
EDUCATOR WORKPLACE CONDITIONS AND RIGHTS
Educators need and deserve fair salaries and benefits, safe workplaces that respect who we are and what we bring to our students, and the right to demand change.
Fair pay and fair benefits ensure the best and brightest can join and stay in our profession–for that’s what our communities deserve. Collective bargaining and advocacy ensures that we enhance student learning and improve educator working conditions–benefiting our students, schools, and the community as a whole. When our educators are safe, welcome, and included, they can focus on educating our students.
According to the Learning Policy Institute, almost 20% of teachers leave the profession because of low pay. 94% of U.S. Teachers spend their own money on their students’ behalf.
Educators often have master’s degrees, even doctorate degrees, and yet they earn far less than other college graduates. Policy makers claim teachers are professionals. In other career fields,
Professionals’ voices are central in key decisions regarding how they do their work and the kind of supports they need to do it well. None of this is true with respect to teachers.
Our working conditions are also our students’ learning conditions. Collective bargaining and advocacy enable all stakeholders to work together so that students, educators, and the community benefits. It also gives Association members a genuine voice in their workplace, helping to ensure educator rights, fair compensation and benefits, retirement security, and enhanced, safe conditions for student learning.
We believe in taking collective action to ensure the collective good. When we raise our voices, we help every educator get the support they need to join, stay, and thrive in our profession.