Reston, VA—NASSP CEO JoAnn Bartoletti issued the following open statement to policymakers who support the soon-to-be-released White House-Senate COVID-19 funding proposal:

To the policymakers who support this proposal, our message is simple: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

We are angry and we are frustrated with your failure to take the current crisis seriously as time runs short before a new school year. You know well that $70 billion is not nearly enough to meet the emergent needs of continuing education during a pandemic. And conditioning a large portion of those desperately needed funds on putting kids at risk by opening school before it’s safe is nothing less than extortion.

Just as insulting, the bill’s authors do not even try to mask their contempt for public education by skimming $10 billion of these public dollars for private enterprise in an unabashed attempt to leverage a crisis to advance Secretary DeVos’s school privatization agenda.

Policymakers, your Groundhog Day-like discovery about “the importance of kids learning in school” is by contrast the simple value educators live each day. Exploiting the value as a lever to open schools despite health risks neither gives you sudden moral authority nor masks your hypocrisy. No one knows better than educators the importance of kids learning in school. The difference is we believe it. And yes, we even want to fire up the economy. But it’s shortsighted and immoral to use our kids and educators as kindling.

So please stop negotiating with the health of the nation’s students and do the hard work you were elected to do. While school recovery is for you just another game to score cheap political points en route to November’s election, education leaders are managing serious life-and-death issues. We’re exploring the best ways to continue high-quality learning while balancing the danger of a potentially fatal illness to the people entrusted to our care. It’s reasonable to expect our elected officials to be partners in finding a solution. Instead, you use your platform only to exacerbate the difficulty with a layer of polarizing politics. If you are unwilling to help, then please at least stop making noise and go sit quietly in the corner. The adults have work to do.


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor SocietyNational Junior Honor SocietyNational Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.