Teacher's union puts $1 million behind ad demanding funding for schools preparing to reopen

The nation’s second largest teacher’s union is putting $1 million behind a new television and digital ad campaign urging the GOP-controlled Senate to provide additional funding to schools to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said that in additional to current funding levels, U.S. schools need an additional $116.5 billion to meet “public health, well-being and instructional needs of students, teachers and school staff in order to reopen safely.”

That comes out to about $1.2 million per school for instructional staff, new distance learning programs, personal protective gear, cleaning supplies, health staffing and other resources.


“Coronavirus isn’t taking personal time. Unemployment isn’t taking a leave of absence, and teachers and parents aren’t taking a break from preparing for the school year,” the narrator in the ad says. “So why are Senate Republicans taking a vacation instead of passing funding to safely reopen schools and kickstart our economy? We can’t afford for our children’s education to be another victim of the coronavirus. Tell your senator to come back to Washington and support emergency education funding.” 

The ads will run on YouTube, as well as on television in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The ad comes as President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE urges local officials to resume in-person attendance at school despite rising coronavirus cases in some parts of the country.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosPardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office Azar in exit letter to Trump says Capitol riot could 'tarnish' legacy READ: Departure letter from HHS Secretary Azar to Trump MORE told state leaders on a conference call this week that a limited in-person reopening of schools is unacceptable.

On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut off federal funding for schools that don’t return to in-person classes in the fall.


"The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families,” Trump tweeted. “May cut off funding if not open!"

AFT President Randi Weingarten said schools should not reopen without additional resources to keep children and staff safe and healthy.

“Parents are telling their employers they can’t reopen the economy further without reopening schools, and we can’t reopen schools without the resources and plans to keep students and staff safe from the virus,” Weingarten said. “It’s time for [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE and Senate Republicans to do their jobs, get back to Washington and pass emergency education funding, or we won’t be able to reopen our schools.”