Norcross Introduces the Rebuild America’s Schools Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) led House and Senate Democrats in introducing a proposal to invest more than $100 billion in America’s public schools. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would fund $70 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds to help address critical physical and digital infrastructure needs in schools across the country. According to economic projections, the bill would also create more than 1.9 million good-paying jobs.
“In Congress, my top three priorities are jobs education and security, and the Rebuild America’s Schools Act will create jobs in our communities, improve educational opportunities and ensure students learn in buildings that are safe and more secure. It’s a win-win-win,” said Congressman Norcross, a member of the Education and Labor Committee. “No student should be going to a school that poses a serious safety threat but, unfortunately, that’s happening right now. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act provides investments that help students and teachers, as well as the men and women who will build new schools. As a grandfather of students and a construction worker by trade, I’ll continue to support initiatives that lift up workers, improve schools and help students succeed.”
The bill comes as students, teachers, and parents across the country are demanding more support for public education. In a recent poll conducted by Politico/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 84% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans said increasing K-12 funding is an “extremely important priority” for the 116th Congress.
There is currently a $46 billion nationwide shortfall in annual funding for public school infrastructure. The bill was introduced with 153 House cosponsors.
“Students and educators across the country go to school every day in crumbling buildings that are either unsafe, not equipped with essential resources, or both. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act is an important step toward ensuring that every student, regardless of their family’s wealth, can attend a safe, welcoming, and high-quality public school. This bill would strengthen our communities today by employing local workers and strengthen our communities in the future by setting a strong foundation for all students to reach their potential,” said Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott.
“In his last State of the Union Speech, President Trump urged ‘both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.’ And we hope he will heed those words and include school infrastructure as part of the equation. Because rebuilding and modernizing public schools will boost student achievement, grow our economy, and pay dividends for future generations,” said Sen. Jack Reed, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD). “Many schools were built over half a century ago and the state of America’s school infrastructure today is not as strong as it should be. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act will help change that by providing a steady source of federal funds to help local schools catch up on overdue repairs, renovation, and new construction. We need to start responsibly investing today in order to help build the classrooms of tomorrow.”
The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would:
- Create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff.
- Leverage federal, state, and local resources for an overall investment of $107 billion, creating over 1.9 million jobs, based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs.
- Develop a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities; such a national database currently does not exist and would provide much-needed insight into the condition of our public schools.
- Expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that public schools have the reliable and high-speed Internet access they need for digital learning.
- Lily Eskelsen García, a sixth grade teacher from Utah who serves as president of the 3 million-member National Education Association:
“Every public school in America should reflect how much we value our students and educators. For decades, too many students and educators have been forced to learn and teach in classrooms with leaky roofs, moldy carpets, asbestos and other health hazards, broken heating or air conditioning systems, and facilities that are infested with cockroaches, rats and other vermin. These conditions are unacceptable. NEA welcomes champions in Congress — like Chairman Bobby Scott, Senator Jack Reed, Congressman Donald Norcross and the Democratic leadership — for stepping up to make students, educators and their safety a priority.”
- Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers:
“Every day, millions of students and educators across the country attend schools that put their health and safety at risk—black toxic mold on floors, classrooms without heat, leaking ceilings and contaminated water. We cannot send our kids to schools in these conditions and expect them to learn and thrive. Our children deserve better.
“Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Scott and Sens. Reed and Brown, Congress can take long-overdue action to address the deteriorating and obsolete school facilities that exist in far too many of our communities. Rebuilding America’s public schools requires making our school infrastructure a priority and committing resources to back that claim up.”
- James Boland, president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers:
“It is critically important that we rebuild our crumbling school facilities now so that our students are able to attend schools that are conducive to learning and that our teachers can do their important work in safe and healthy environment. And when we rebuild our schools, we must rebuild them with our skilled trades workers.
“The Rebuild America’s Schools Act provides much needed investment to address our urgent school Infrastructure needs. It will stimulate the economy and create nearly 2 million good-paying jobs. The time to rebuild our schools is NOW.”
List of Supporting Organizations: 21st Century Schools Fund, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Association of School Business Officials International, Californians for School Facilities, Council of Great City Schools, Healthy Schools Network, International Union of Operating Engineers, National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Concrete Masonry Association, National Education Association, National PTA, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National Urban League, North America's Building Trades Union, Organizations Concerned About Rural Education, Public Advocacy for Kids, Rebuild America's Schools Coalition, Rural School and Community Trust, Teach Plus, The Brick Industry Association, U.S. Green Building Council, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, and the United Steelworkers.
Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director