Biden budget targets K-12 inequities, Cardona tells Senate

Special education: The proposal includes $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B
By: | June 16, 2021
Increased K-12 spending and COVID relief funds comes after years of underinvestment in K-12 education, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says.Increased K-12 spending and COVID relief funds comes after years of underinvestment in K-12 education, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education subcommittee heard testimony from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on the Biden administration’s $102.8 billion FY 2022 budget request for the U.S. Education Department.

“I’m proud to testify today about President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Department of Education because it makes good on the president’s campaign commitment to invest in education,” Cardona said. “It also begins to address the significant inequities that students—primarily students of color—confront every day in schools in pursuit of higher education and career technical education.”

The Biden administration’s FY 2022 education budget request includes nearly flat-funding $16.5 billion for existing Title I, Part A funding streams, with a proposed $20 billion Title I “equity grants” initiative.

The program is intended to “help address long-standing funding disparities between under-resourced school districts and their wealthier counterparts” through support to “ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, ensure equitable access to rigorous curriculum, expand access to pre-kindergarten and provide meaningful incentives to examine and address inequalities in school funding systems.”

The proposal includes $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B, a $2.6 billion increase over FY 2021. It would provide $732 million for IDEA Part C, $250 million more than appropriated in FY 2021.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., lauded the administration’s proposal to increase funding for the IDEA, saying that a “significant component of our success in education” is educating those students served by the IDEA, and he looks forward to working with the administration to provide additional support for those students.

Senate Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked about the administration’s proposed $25 billion overall increase for K-12 education in the FY 2022 budget, given the amount of funding that has been provided for education through the CARES, CRRSA, and ARP Acts.

Cardona responded that the request shows the Biden administration’s interest in education, and that the budget increase comes after years of underinvestment in K-12 education.

The Senate committee hearing comes the same week that the House Budget Committee set its topline overall spending figure of $1.5 trillion for FY 2022 appropriations bills. The House is scheduled to mark up its version of the FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill the week of July 12.