Senator Murray Highlights Critical Importance of Strong Investments in Education and Workforce
***WATCH: Senator Murray discusses importance of investing in students***
Washington, D.C. – Today, at a Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Department of Education, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke about the need to invest in education in order to ensure our kids can live up to their full potential and to strengthen our workforce and keep the American economy competitive.
“As a former preschool teacher, I can tell you: we have to get this right,” began Senator Murray. “For our kids. For our families. Because when it comes to competing against other countries, winning the future isn’t just about how much we spend on our military—it’s also about how much we invest in our kids. Are we making sure our kids get a strong start in life so they can grow and thrive? Things like high quality public schools, enriching afterschool and summer programs, and the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals.”
Senator Murray made clear that Congress cannot afford to shortchange key investments in education if we want to stay ahead of competitors like the Chinese government.
“We can’t afford to shortchange these issues—especially if we want to stay ahead of our competitors, like the Chinese government,” said Senator Murray. “If we want to keep on the cutting edge of discovery—we have to support the next generation of researchers—we have to light that spark of curiosity, and invest in higher education institutions that help it burn bright. If we want to have a strong workforce—we have to make sure everyone can pursue a high quality education and career training opportunities.”
“The bottom line? If we want our nation to grow, and thrive, like it has for past generations, we have to invest in the next generation. And that’s why this committee is so critical,” stated Senator Murray.
In her questioning of Secretary Miguel Cardona, Senator Murray noted that the American Rescue Plan and earlier COVID-19 relief legislation provided states and local school districts with significant funding to support students’ academic and overall well-being. In particular, Senator Murray noted that she authored provisions to ensure schools set aside federal relief dollars to tackle learning loss specifically.
“Across the country they have implemented supports I’ve heard about like high-intensity tutoring, and summer learning programs,” stated Senator Murray. “I want to build on these investments and ensure we use evidence-based programs, address barriers to implementation, and get states the technical assistance they need.”
“Secretary Cardona, how will the Department continue to prioritize disproportionately harmed students through this budget?” asked Senator Murray.
Secretary Cardona affirmed that tackling learning loss continues to be a high priority for school districts everywhere, noting that he had seen an increase in the uptake and utilization of high intensity tutoring and afterschool programs across the country. Secretary Cardona also emphasized that the Department is working hard to get the word out about what methods have proven most effective in addressing learning loss.
Senator Murray, who led efforts to secure critical resources for students experiencing homelessness in the American Rescue Plan, also pressed Secretary Cardona on the Department’s strategy to support students experiencing homelessness.
“I want to ask you about homelessness. There’s been a 15 percent increase [in Washington state] from the previous year—young students who are homeless,” noted Senator Murray. “I’m really concerned about this—talk to us about how you’re dealing with the homelessness issue with our kids,” prompted Senator Murray.
Secretary Cardona noted that the flexibility of American Rescue Plan dollars have been critical to help ensure students are ready to learn at school, funding staff to provide support for students experiencing homelessness—whether it’s housing, tutoring, or just making sure they have access to healthy meals.
Senator Murray has long led the charge to end youth homelessness in America and expand opportunity for children experiencing housing insecurity. She is the sponsor of the Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration (AHEAD) Act, legislation to help address the many challenges that youth facing homelessness and housing insecurity must overcome as they pursue an education. Last Congress, Senator Murray introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act to remove barriers and provide support to help students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care access and succeed in higher education.
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