Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten Reacts to Congressional Action on School Construction and ‘2021 State of Our Schools’ Report

For Release: 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the House Education and Labor Committee’s release of its portion of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, which includes $82 billion for K-12 construction. This announcement comes directly on the heels of the release of the “2021 State of Our Schools” report—a joint publication of the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities and the International WELL Building Institute—which finds that the nation has been underinvesting in school infrastructure by $85 billion annually:

“It shouldn’t have taken a respiratory virus to want to fix outdated school buildings falling apart due to decades of neglect. Whether it’s failing heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, leaky facilities that breed mold, or windows that won’t open or close, this type of disrepair undermines student learning and overall safety, disproportionately harming students of color, students with disabilities and students in rural counties. That is why we applaud House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott for including $82 billion for school construction grants in the House version of the reconciliation bill.

“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that schools are the centers of our communities—places where everyone should feel safe and welcome, and where students can experience the hope of learning, the joy of connections and the resilience they need to succeed. This requires safe and healthy buildings. I urge congressional leaders to incorporate this funding into the final package and urge all members of Congress to support quick passage of the Build Back Better reconciliation package.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.