Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 Department of Education Budget Request

2020-02-27 10:20

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the Department of Education:

I thank Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for holding this hearing and welcome Secretary DeVos before the subcommittee.

This is the fourth budget request Congress has received for the Department of Education under your leadership that has been filled with program cuts and outright eliminations. Without fail, your vision hurts our students and their families. Like every previous year, we will reject this outrageous proposal.

You’d like us to believe this proposal empowers states and districts with flexibility, but the numbers don’t lie. You propose eliminating 41 programs and cutting education funding overall by $6.2 billion. The Department of Education’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Secretary DeVos, your budget is clearly on a different mission—one that shirks accountability to our students and taxpayers.

It would take more than my allotted time to read the complete list of eliminations and funding cuts, so I will only highlight a few, all of which demonstrate a lack of commitment to educational equity across elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education.

Where we should be protecting and building on our $16.3 billion investment in Title I schools, your budget proposal has eliminated this crucial support for students in high-poverty schools. 

You propose eliminating Full Service Community Schools. In my district, Thomas Edison Elementary School in Port Chester was among the first in the country to implement the Full-Service Community School model, and their success showed that integrating academics, social services, and community engagement improves student learning, strengthens families, and empowers communities.

The budget request eliminates the English Language Acquisition grant program, which is vital for combatting inequality by improving outcomes for English language learners.

Working families count on afterschool programs, so they can go to work knowing their child is safe and learning, but your budget request eliminates this funding, too.

More than half of Americans live in a child care desert, and that includes the one in five college students who are parents. On-campus child care programs, like the Virginia Marx Children’s Center at Westchester Community College, help student parents successfully pursue degrees. But you would cut funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program by nearly 72 percent.

It would be absurd to champion this budget request for its ‘so-called’ fiscal responsibility. More than $2 billion in student financial aid and grants to institutions would be cut and instead squandered on a border wall.

By eliminating programs and reducing funds, this budget request would exacerbate the opportunity gap.

Our students deserve better, and I sincerely hope your response to our questions will address these concerns.

116th Congress