Biden Moves Budget Forward, Republicans Act to Block CRT School Curriculum
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
President’s Detailed Budget to be Released May 27
President Biden will release his full FY 2022 funding proposal on May 27. In April, he released a budget framework (often called a “skinny budget, though there is nothing “skinny” about the numbers in it), a $1.5 trillion proposal that provided the rough contours of his vision for $753 billion in defense spending and $769 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. The proposal in the “skinny” budget represents a 41% increase in spending to the Department of Education—the largest increase since the Department’s inception in 1979. The full budget proposal will include more details on proposed funding levels for specific programs.
Education advocates will be looking to see how the President’s budget proposal aligns with the American Families Plan, which he released a few weeks ago. That $1.8 trillion plan calls for significant increases in education, including $200 billion for universal pre-k, $109 billion for two years of free community college and a $9 billion investment in teachers – including addressing teacher shortages through expanded preparation and recruitment of diverse candidates. While the American Families Plan is a 10-year plan, its numbers should correlate to the one-year budget proposal he will provide at the end of the month.
The House Appropriations Committee is aiming to start marking up its FY 2022 bills in June, and Democratic leadership is eager to see the President’s request before releasing draft bills. Under the leadership of the intrepid Chair, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Appropriations Committee plans to markup each of the 12 bills beginning in June, with the goal of passing all of the bills before the fourth of July.
As is typical, the Senate is not expected to act on its appropriations bills until after the House moves forward. Meanwhile, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee has announced accounts that are eligible for Senators to request community project funding (aka, earmarks). The Senate has identified a few education-related accounts eligible for earmarks, as has the House. Senate-only education-related accounts eligible for earmarks include Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE), Rehabilitation Services—Demonstration and Training, and Employment and Training Administration in the Department of Labor. House-only education-related accounts eligible for earmarks include Innovation and Improvement, Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and Demonstration Program in the Department of Labor. The only account eligible in both the House and the Senate bills is the Higher Ed- Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education. Senators have until July 8 to submit their earmark requests. Stay tuned to find out what requests your Senators will submit.
Republicans Move to Block the Teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is backing two bills aimed at blocking the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools. The bills, Fight Radicalization of Elementary Education Act and the Protect Equality and Civics Education Act were introduced by fellow North Carolina Republican Reps. Greg Murphy (R-NC) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). In essence, the two bills prohibit the Department of Education from encouraging school districts to adopt critical race theory curriculum. The measures would cut off federal money to states, local educational agencies, or schools that adopt an academic method designed to explore systemic racism in American policies.
In a statement, Rep. Foxx (R-NC) said, “Taxpayer dollars should not be spent to further an anti-American agenda. The Department of Education has displayed a pattern of putting liberal politics over students’ wellbeing. This attempt to push critical race theory will turn vitally important civics classes, which teach about our God-given rights and freedoms, into Socialism 101. This bill will prevent our schools from becoming an echo chamber for Democrat talking points.”
President Biden, however, has highlighted investments to advance racial equity as his fourth pillar on the Build Back Better Agenda—dating back to his time on the campaign trail. In a related move, he announced this week that he plans to nominate Catherine Lhamon to serve as assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, a role she previously held in the Obama Administration. The impending nomination of Lhamon, currently a White House adviser, signals plans for an aggressive civil rights push by the Biden Education Department. She will help direct efforts in areas like racial equity, LGBTQ rights, schools’ response to sexual assault and harassment, and efforts to root out systemic inequality in schools.