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 John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE urges local officials to resume in-person attendance at school despite rising coronavirus cases in some parts of the country.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosHouse committee subpoenas Education Department staff over for-profit colleges DeVos says it isn't Department of Education's job to track schools' coronavirus reopening plans Judge calls Devos student loan forgiveness process 'disturbingly Kafkaesque' 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 McConnellMcConnell: Battle for Senate 'a 50-50 proposition' 'Packing' federal courts is already a serious problem What a Biden administration should look like 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.”