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President Biden’s Department of Education budget proposes increased investments in education to address systemic inequities, lost instructional time, educator shortages, child care, mental health challenges, and more 

Senator Murray: “This budget—which would increase education funding by 40 percent, to $103 billion—is a much-needed breath of fresh air.” 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) chaired a hearing of the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, focused on President Biden’s budget proposal for the Department of Education which would increase funding by 40%. In her opening remarks, Senator Murray praised the proposed bold investment to help schools and students as they respond to and recover from this pandemic and address longstanding inequities in education.

“Secretary Cardona, after years of proposed budget cuts and school privatization efforts from your predecessor, this budget—which would increase education funding by 40 percent, to $103 billion—is a much-needed breath of fresh air,” said Senator Murray in her opening remarks. “We need to make sure every student—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they or their family make—can receive the supports they need to thrive, despite this pandemic. So, I’m glad this budget takes the task of reckoning with these inequities seriously—with investments across a range of programs to help ensure all students can get a quality public education.”

At the hearing, Senator Murray stressed that as we work to build back from the COVID pandemic, we must invest in education to get our students back on track, address lost instructional time, and tackle inequities that were exacerbated by the crisis. President Biden’s budget proposes increased investments to support students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs, expand high quality preschool programs,  address inequities in state and local funding, and provide support for students with disabilities. Senator Murray also highlighted how the budget takes critical steps forward to make higher education more accessible and affordable by expanding Pell grants, nearly doubling funding for quality, campus-based child care, and supporting historically under-resourced colleges and universities, including HBCUs. She also praised the budget’s large proposed investments in the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which protects students from discrimination regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

“I always say a budget is a reflection of your values, and this budget shows President Biden understands the money we spend on schools, students, and public education is an investment in our future.” Senator Murray said in her remarks. “What our nation accomplishes in the years ahead, will be determined by the opportunities, and the support we are able to give children across the country now.

Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Secretary Cardona, after years of proposed budget cuts and school privatization from your predecessor, this budget—which would increase education funding by 40 percent, to $103 billion—is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

“It proposes bold investments to help schools and students as they respond to and recover from this pandemic and address longstanding inequities in education which COVID-19 has made even more damaging.

“One of the biggest issues facing our nation, is getting our students back on track, and addressing the lost learning time they have experienced.

“We know students of color, students with disabilities, students in rural and tribal communities, and students from families with low incomes have borne the brunt of this pandemic.

“One study, for example, found the pandemic set students of color back three to five months from where they would be in a typical year but set white students back one to three months.

“We need to make sure every student—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they or their family make—can receive the supports they need to thrive, despite this pandemic.

"So, I’m glad this budget takes the task of reckoning with these inequities seriously—with investments across a range of programs to help ensure all students can get a quality public education.  

“It invests $20 billion in a new initiative intended to reduce disparities in public elementary and secondary education in our country—and proposes to use this funding to help public schools address a variety of issues, including inequities in state and local education funding, expanding high-quality preschool programs, and improving outcomes for all students.

"Of course, improving outcomes for all students means we must also do more to support students with disabilities.

“This budget takes a historic step on that front by proposing a $3 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“Over the years, Congress has fallen short of its promise to provide 40 percent of the funding to support the education of students with disabilities through the IDEA.

“Currently only 13 percent is provided—and struggling states and districts have been left to fill in the gaps.

“President Biden’s proposal will help us better keep this promise, and help schools across the country address the shortage of teachers for students with disabilities, and provide early intervention services so students can get the support they need to succeed as soon as possible.

“And when it comes to supporting students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs —this budget also proposes a $413 million increase for Full Service Community Schools, an increase of $120 million for English Language acquisition grants, and a new $1 billion initiative to ensure students have access to school counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals.

“This is especially critical, given the mental health challenges students, educators, and school staff have faced during the pandemic.

“These challenges will persist well into the next school year. 

“We need to make investments to support student and staff well-being.

“And we need to bring in more counselors, nurses, and psychologists.

“In Washington state, we only have one school psychologist for every one thousand students.

“This budget will also help us tackle inequities in higher education, and significantly expand support for students pursuing a post-secondary education—including by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by almost one-third.

“This is so important.

“Federal support, like Pell grants, allowed my siblings and I all to go to college.

“But Pell has gone from covering 75 percent of the average cost of a four-year degree at its peak, to less than 30 percent today.

“We have to strengthen and expand Pell, and this budget is a clear step in the right direction.

“Ultimately we need to do even more to double the maximum Pell award over the next six years, protect Pell from being cut by budget shortfalls, and expand Pell grants to more students.

“Today, I joined colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce legislation to accomplish all of that, and I hope to work with you Secretary Cardona, and my colleagues here in Congress, to get this done.

“And increased Pell grants are just one of several investments this budget proposes to make higher education more accessible and affordable for all students.

“It provides funding to help implement the bipartisan FAFSA simplification bill I worked to pass last December. This will make it easier for all students to apply for financial aid, including Pell grants, expand the number of students eligible for support, and increase financial aid to students with low incomes.

“It increases funding for TRIO programs which help first-generation college students, students with disabilities, and students from families with low incomes—get to and through college successfully.

“It nearly doubles funding for quality, campus-based child care to support student parents under the C-CAMPIS program.

“And it provides increased funding for historically under-resourced colleges and universities, including $345 million, a 44 percent increase, in funding for Minority Serving Institutions, like Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other institutions predominantly serving low-income students, like community colleges.

“Finally, this budget also increases funding for the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“Between this budget, and the public hearings the Department started last week on the previous Administration’s inadequate Title IX rule…

“It’s clear we have a President who is focused on protecting students no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity, or disability.

“I’ll be watching your work in this space closely, and encourage the Department to continue its efforts to hear, acknowledge, and address the stories and concerns of survivors of sexual assault.

“I will say, one area where I would like to see an increased investment, is funding to support education for children and youth experiencing homelessness.

“But, overall, this budget is night-and-day different from the previous Administration.

“I always say a budget is a reflection of your values, and this budget shows President Biden understands the money we spend on schools, students, and public education is an investment in our future.

“What our nation accomplishes in the years ahead, will be determined by the opportunities, and the support we are able to give children across the country now.

“I look forward to working with the Administration, and with my colleagues on this Committee to make the investments in education we need to make the future brighter for our families.

“Now I’ll turn it over to Senator Blunt for his remarks.” 

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