Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Inadequate Higher Education Package

Proposed Reauthorization of Higher Education Act Excludes Provisions Vital to Tackling Student Debt, Protecting Students

For Release:


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a bare-bones reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The AFT is the country’s largest higher education union.

“Bipartisanship may be shriveling in Washington, but education has been an area in which Sens. Murray and Alexander have regularly forged agreements. I deeply respect and have worked with Alexander in the past, so it’s doubly disappointing that he would introduce an inadequate package of higher education bills that short-circuit comprehensive reauthorization by excluding protections students so urgently need.

“While the bill includes some stand-alone elements we’ve been calling for—fixes for HBCUs and MSIs and simplifying FAFSA—it is silent on our most urgent priorities, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness, college affordability and boosting state investment.

“Instead of going it alone, Sen. Alexander should continue his and Sen. Murray’s tradition of working together to construct a bill that truly addresses the underfunding and student debt crises that have grievously harmed the U.S. higher education system.”

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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.