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Statement by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the U.S. Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request in front of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee

Chair Murray, Ranking Member Blunt, Distinguished Subcommittee.

Good morning and thank you.

While I will focus on the budget and priorities of the Department of Education, I must start by sharing that, together, we must meet this moment.

After attending the wakes of four murdered children, and attending the funeral of a teacher, Irma Garcia, who died protecting her students, and her husband Joe, who died of a broken heart, I spoke with teachers from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas. In between tears, they asked for help. They asked that we see what they are experiencing so that we do everything in our power to help them, and the millions of students and educators we serve across the country. So today, respectfully, I ask, let’s do something.

Our teachers and educators did everything we asked of them these last two years. Now we must listen to them and act.

For the last two years, with greater risks to their own lives, our students and teachers rose to the moment and safely returned to school despite fears and the risks that were associated with it.
Now we must do the same. Rise to the moment, despite whatever fears may exist to support out teachers and students.

On May 24th, the following school children and teachers were murdered in one our schools:

Irma Garcia Grade 4 teacher
Eva Mireles Grade 4 teacher
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Layla Salazar, 11
Maranda Mathis, 11
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10
Xavier Lopez, 10
Tess Marie Mata, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10
Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, 9
Eliahna A Torres, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Jackie Cazares, 9
Uziyah Garcia
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10

We must say their names as we remember the responsibility we have. Americans are looking to us to solve difficult problems. We should be humbled by this opportunity to make a more perfect union. We need to do better. Our kids deserve better. Let’s find a path forward!

Before I start, I want to thank you for confirming key Education Department positions. We’re eagerly awaiting confirmation of additional nominees so the Department can continue its critical work on behalf of students, families, and educators.

Today’s hearing is about more than President Biden’s proposed investments for education in Fiscal year 2023.

It’s about the needs of our students, and how we can meet them, if we work together.

The priorities in this budget reflect what I’ve learned during visits to 33 states across America and my conversions with students, parents, educators and leaders in small towns, affluent suburbs, and urban and rural communities, including tribal communities.

Addressing opportunity and achievement gaps that were made worse in pandemic is more important than ever.

This budget focuses on this by investing in our Title I schools and investing in Full-Service Community Schools, which provide high-poverty communities with easier access to services for health and nutrition,
enrichment adult education, and more.

Let’s also invest a billion dollars in hiring staff to support the growing mental health needs. Students are 6X more likely to access this help in our schools versus community settings.

To address the teacher shortage crisis, let’s invest an additional $350 million for recruiting and retaining teachers.

I’ve traveled the country listening to parents, they share they are concerned with recovery . . .. They are concerned with their kids’ reading at grade level. . . They are concerned with back to school . . . bit
letting politics and division into the classroom. Let’s work better together.

The America Rescue Plan got us this far. We went from 46% of schools fully oprn to over 99% today.

With your investments, let’s build more inclusive affordable pathways to higher education and rewarding careers for all out students.

Let’s increase Pell by $1,775 for FY2023 so more kids can get to college Our budget also calls for investments in community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and inclusive institutions.

We are proposing $200 million for Career-Connected learning, so more underserved students graduate high school with industry credentials and college credits. Graduates need options!

Look, education gave me the tools to achieve the American Dream.

I grew up in a blue collar community. I only had what my public schools offered me.

I attended a Title I school and graduated from a technical high school.

I became a first-generation college student.

I’m bilingual-certified educator, who benefited from quality teacher preparation and professional development.

I am a product of the investments in this budget.

Education brought the promise of this country alive for me.

We must renew that promise for today’s students and those to come.

For the last two years, we were tested in ways we could never imagine. Through intentional collaboration and strong leadership, we persevered. As this moment requites even more of us, we must lead with
an even greater urgency.

Our students are watching don’t let them down.

Thank you.