Sen. Cory Booker Calls for $260 Billion in Federal Funding for Education Systems

Nothing has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic—this includes the country’s education system. Recognizing that state and local school districts will require federal funding to support their educators and students, Sen. Cory Booker has introduced the Educator Jobs Fund Act of 2020.

If passed, Booker’s legislation would provide $260 billion of additional federal aid to better serve students and support teachers during the pandemic.

“The Educator Jobs Fund Act of 2020 will empower school districts to better support and recruit a diverse educator workforce, serve the most vulnerable students and help to protect the health and safety of students and educators during this crisis,” said Booker in a press statement.

School Budgets Hard-hit

The pandemic has taken a toll on school budgets, Booker explained.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing difficulties our educators face, especially when it comes to getting the support, preparation and training they need to serve their students effectively,” he said.

The CARES Act did provide necessary relief, but this funding only accounted for less than 2% of public education funding for the current school year.

Educators Provide Needed Support

Throughout the pandemic, educators have stepped up to support their students by thinking outside-the-box to address never-seen-before challenges.

Many leaders foresee a shortage of qualified teachers, and thus applaud Booker for his focus on teacher training and recruitment. 

“Sen. Booker and his colleagues recognize that students-many of whom are dealing with loss and anxiety-need a well-prepared, stable educator workforce now more than ever,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, CEO, National Association for Secondary School Principals. ”For the sake of those students, we are proud to support the Educator Jobs Fund Act as a means to provide federal support to sustain and continue to develop educator talent throughout and beyond the pandemic crisis.”

The legislation includes:

  • A $260 billion grant program that can be used to pay salaries and benefits for educators, including current, new and former employees who will be rehired.
  • More than $100 million in funding for teacher and school leader residency programs, with a focus on minority institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

PPE Funding

Keeping students and educators safe will require substantial spending on personal protection equipment (PPE).

Another organization speaking up Booker’s legislation New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), including the creation of a new $30 million fund so schools can purchase sanitizing equipment, buy PPE, hire staff to implement safety protocols or purchase other materials.

“NJEA supports Sen. Booker’s efforts to address this critical issue because all students deserve an excellent education and a healthy and safe learning environment,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan.

Focus on Equality

States will also be required to maintain the commitment to fund low-income schools. Funds received from the Educator Jobs Fund Act cannot in turn be used to reduce state support for these schools.

“Over the course of this pandemic, teachers have been the front-line responders to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students,” said Roberto Rodriguez, CEO, TeachPlus. “The Senate should act now to take up Sen. Booker’s proposal and provide the assistance our schools need to keep our teachers on the job, supporting the success and well-being of our students.”

Daily Data

Over the last weekend, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 334,114 with 7,775 total new cases reported and 37 new deaths, bringing that total to 15,149. The state listed probable deaths at 1,829, bringing the overall total to 16,978.

For North Jersey counties, Passaic 609 had a total of new cases, Bergen 538 new cases, Hudson 517 new cases, Essex 445 new cases, Morris 296 new cases, Warren 53 new cases and Sussex 51 new cases. 

State officials noted 64 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,995, followed by Bergen at 1,872, Hudson with 1,413, Passaic at 1,169, Morris at 712, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 160.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 250, Essex has 233, Hudson has 159, Morris at 147, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 20 was 8.9%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.16 from 1.14 over two days. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 2,877 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,332 in the North, 894 in the Central and 651 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 559 are in intensive care units and 304 on ventilators, while 582 patients were discharged over the weekend.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 35,041, followed by Bergen at 34,583, Hudson at 31,432, Middlesex at 30,273, Passaic at 29,849, Union at 28,255, Ocean at 21,748, Monmouth at 20,447, Camden at 18,956, Mercer at 13,724, Burlington at 13,636, Morris at 13,515, Somerset at 9,032, Gloucester at 8,932, Atlantic at 7,939, Cumberland at 5,075, Sussex at 2,549, Warren at 2,495, Hunterdon at 2,469, Cape May at 1,655 and Salem at 1,619.

Another 890 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 66 outbreaks involving 269 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with 10 new outbreaks involving 30 cases recorded. For North Jersey, Bergen County has eight confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Passaic County has two confirmed outbreaks with 19 cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 319 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,761 of the cases, broken down between 2,777 residents and 2,984 staff. 

Cumulatively, 995 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 26,622 residents and 15,526 staff, for a total of 42,148 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,281 on Nov. 25. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,925 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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