Legislative Update: Hearing on ED Priorities and Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

This week, the House held a hearing on education policies and priorities. Read below for details, as well as information on the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, reintroduction of a bill on teacher shortages and the first session of the Equity Summit Series. 

Cardona Testifies on ED Policies and Priorities 

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified to the House Committee on Education and Labor about the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). In his statement, Secretary Cardona spoke about the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to make up for years of federal underinvestment in education programs. He also voiced a commitment to addressing the inequities that persist for students and teachers in underserved schools. Secretary Cardona discussed the need to improve career pathways, including through an increased investment for Career Technical Education (CTE) in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) and a $1 billion annual investment for 10 years through the American Jobs Plan. Secretary Cardona also covered the American Rescue Plan Act, ED funding levels, funding inequities in state and local education systems, investment in Title I grants to local educational agencies, investment in improving students’ physical and mental health, community-based programs, support for special education, teacher training and support, postsecondary education investments, school infrastructure, student aid administration and enforcement of civil rights laws.  

Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, used his time to talk about the importance of CTE and ask for an update on implementation of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Secretary Cardona responded that he is looking forward to working together on implementation.

Secretary Cardona’s full opening statement can be found here. A full recording of the hearing and opening statement from Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) can be found here

Administration Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

The Biden-Harris Administration announced support for a new Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework on Thursday. The $1.2 billion framework invests in clean transportation infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, clean power infrastructure, remediation of legacy pollution and resilience to climate change. It also addresses universal broadband infrastructure with a $65 billion investment. The fact sheet on the framework, including spending levels, can be found here

Senate Reintroduces Bill on Teacher and Principal Shortages

On Thursday, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act to address teacher and principal shortages. The PREP Act particularly addresses shortages in rural areas, and ways to increase teacher diversity.  Senator Kaine is also one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus. The legislation would expand the definition of high need districts under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to include schools with teacher shortages in rural communities as well as in “core academic subjects,” which includes CTE.  Advance CTE is pleased to support the PREP Act. Full bill text can be found here.   

ED Holds First Installment of Equity Summit Series 

The first installment of ED’s Equity Summit Series took place on Tuesday and covered “Building Equitable Learning Environments in Our Schools.” The session discussed how the Biden Administration is committed to advancing equity through school reopenings, recovery and long-term investments in education, and how this shows up in the American Families Plan and the President’s FY22 Budget request.  

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden joined the virtual event and spoke about how, “For many years schools across the country have grappled with issues of inequity, especially our students of color, those from low income homes, students with disabilities, and English language learners. As we recover from this pandemic, it’s on all of us to ensure we don’t return to the same broken systems of the past, but build back better than before. And that’s exactly what our administration is committed to doing.” Other speakers included Secretary Cardona, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Dean of USC Rossier School of Education Pedro Noguera, 2021 DC Teacher of the Year Alejandor Diasgranados and learners and educators from across the country. A full readout can be found here

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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