Oral Statement by Miguel Cardona Secretary of Education on the U.S. Department of Education Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request

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Oral Statement by Miguel Cardona Secretary of Education on the U.S. Department of Education Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request

May 5, 2021

Good morning Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Cole, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee.

I am pleased to join you today and proud to testify on behalf of President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Education. I am especially honored to be testifying during Teacher Appreciation Week, and I would like to recognize all the hard-working teachers, faculty, and staff for their tireless dedication to students.  The Budget Request makes good on President Biden’s campaign commitment to invest in education and begins to address the significant inequities that students—primarily students of color—confront every day in schools and in pursuit of higher education and career technical education.

I first want to thank the Members of the Subcommittee—and your staff—who helped ensure passage of the American Rescue Plan, bringing vital resources to our schools and colleges across the country.  I can tell you from experience that the ARP funds will ensure that school buildings re-open for full-time, in-person instruction as safely and as soon as possible. 

Once we fully reopen buildings, we still have work to do. Generations of inequity have left far too many students without equitable access to high-quality, inclusive learning opportunities, including in our rural communities. Education can be the great equalizer – it was for me – if we prioritize, replicate, and invest in what works for all students, not just some.

We must do more to level the playing field, including providing a strong foundation from birth, improving diversity among the teacher workforce, and creating learning pathways that work for all students.

To that end, the budget proposal calls on Congress to invest nearly $103 billion in Department of Education programs, a 41 percent increase over the fiscal year 2021 appropriation to support students’ success.  The fiscal year 2022 request also makes a meaningful down payment toward the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of reversing inequities. It starts with a proposed increase to double funding for Title I to address disparities between under-resourced schools and their wealthier counterparts, support teachers in Title I schools earning competitive wages, expand access to pre-K, and provide equitable access to advanced coursework. 

Our request would also build on Congress’ prior commitments to support the mental health needs of our students, including by increasing the number of school counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in our schools. In addition, the President’s request would help increase the availability of wrap-around services to students and families in underserved schools and communities with a significant expansion of the Full-Service Community Schools program. 

We also think it is past time for the Federal Government to make good on its commitment to students with disabilities and their families and the request makes a significant move toward full funding of IDEA, proposing a 20 percent increase for IDEA State grants. 

Turning to higher education, our budget proposal begins the Biden-Harris Administration’s critical work to increase access and affordability for postsecondary education. The budget proposal coupled with the increase proposed in the American Families Plan would be the largest increase to the Pell Grant ever, helping millions of students and families pursue their goals.  Importantly, our proposal also would ensure that DREAMers may receive Pell Grants if they meet the current eligibility requirements.

The fiscal year 2022 request paints a bold picture for the future of our institutional and student support programs. The budget increases institutional capacity and student supports at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), with additional funding for HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, as well as TRIO and GEAR UP to help ensure underserved students succeed in and graduate from college.

Finally, we would prioritize efforts to enforce civil rights laws related to education through a 10 percent increase for the Office for Civil Rights to protect students and advance equity in educational opportunity and delivery in preschool through college.

Working together with stakeholders, including educators and students, we can and will heal, learn, and grow through this challenging time. I am committed to working collaboratively with each of you to strengthen local decision-making and to help improve opportunities, pathways, and outcomes for students across the country, including in our rural communities. Thank you, and I look forward to any questions you may have.