Back-to-School Begins with 10 House GOP Riders Attacking Students, Kids, and Schools

student chalk board school

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As students of all ages head back to school, House Appropriations Republicans have added at least 10 poison pill policy riders that attack students, kids, and schools into their draft annual spending bills. The Clean Budget Coalition, which is tracking the poison pills, has repeatedly called on Congress to remove all of these harmful measures.

“Not one of these poison pills from extremist politicians can so much as pretend to be a solution that benefits our kids and our communities,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “They’re inserting politics into the classroom, banning books and censoring curriculum, in addition to making draconian funding cuts, because these legislators aren’t actually trying to help kids by strengthening their schools. Instead, they are doing everything they can to pauperize and privatize public education.

“How else can you explain a rider that blocks funding set aside to protect students against religious discrimination? Or one that ends efforts to protect teachers and staff from increasing threats of violence? Or one that makes going to college even more expensive? We all know those don’t help students learn or teachers teach. That requires real solutions, such as fully funding programs like Title I and others that help meet families’ needs and promote hands-on learning and a focus on reading. These solutions – not culture war tactics tacked onto a funding bill – are what work to address loneliness, learning loss, and literacy challenges.”

The riders include:

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

  • The School Low-Fat Milk Rider would require low-fat flavored milk to be allowed in School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture already permits them.

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  • The School Threats Rider would prohibit funds for the U.S. Attorney General’s school boards memo, blocking U.S. Department of Justice efforts to address the rise in violent threats against school administrators, school board members, teachers, and staff.
  • The Student Religious Beliefs Rider would block funding to discriminate against or denigrate the religious or moral beliefs of students who participate in programs for which financial assistance is provided or the parents or legal guardians of such students.

Financial Services and General Government

  • The Food Marketed to Children Rider would add obstacles thwarting the completion of an interagency report on how food is marketed to children. The report is aimed at developing a range of voluntary, self-regulatory principles that industry can embrace to improve children’s health and nutrition.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

  • The Student Sex Discrimination Rider would block the U.S. Department of Education from issuing a final rule to prevent sex discrimination and sex-based harassment at schools and a final rule to clarify how all students can participate in athletics.
  • The Religious Student Groups Rider would deny funding to public colleges and universities that have taken action against religious student groups that discriminate or engage in other unlawful conduct based on their religious beliefs.
  • The Student Debt Cancellation Rider would prohibit any broad-based student debt cancellation.
  • The Income-Driven Repayment Rider would stop the Biden administration from moving forward with its income-driven repayment plan for student loans, known as the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan.
  • The Scam Colleges Rider would stop any relief for student loan borrowers who were scammed by their colleges, under the borrower defense rule.
  • The School Prayer Rider would block funding to prevent the implementation of voluntary prayer and meditation programs in public schools.

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