In a House Appropriations hearing on the FY23 Department of Education Budget, Clark discussed the urgent need for investments in mental health support for teachers, how to build a pipeline of early educators, protections for LGBTQ+ students, and resources for foster youth

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-5), a member of the Appropriations Committee, attended a hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) on the Fiscal Year 2023 Department of Education Budget. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the subcommittee on the core themes of the FY23 budget including supporting students through pandemic response and recovery; boldly addressing opportunity and achievement gaps; supporting a talented and diverse educator workforce; making higher education inclusive and affordable; and building pathways through higher education that lead to successful careers.

“I have always believed that public education is the bedrock of our democracy. My first elected office was as a member of the Melrose School Committee, and while it was one of the hardest roles I’ve ever had, it gave me an understanding of the difficult, sometimes competing, decisions faced by policymakers, school administrators, teachers, and parents as they strive to give our students the strongest possible start,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “In partnership with the Biden administration, Secretary Cardona, and House Democrats, I’m working to create a budget that puts our young people on a path toward sustained success by strengthening early education, expanding access to mental health services, and investing in a system that treats all students equally as we recover from the pandemic.”

Clark asked Secretary Cardona about funding for public education resources and tools to support teachers and educators through their own mental health crises. Last year, Clark introduced the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act, bicameral legislation to help fill the critical unmet need for school-based mental health service providers in public schools across the United States. This bill directs the Department of Education to establish five-year renewable grant programs for elementary and secondary schools to hire additional school counselors.

“We had mental health issues in our schools that were unaddressed before, and the pandemic only made it worse,” said Secretary Cardona. “It’s critical to ensure that this support is accessible to students and staff. We have a moment now to make mental health investments more foundational in our schools and provide them with the support they need to reduce inequalities.”

Clark went on to question Secretary Cardona about funding to build a diverse educator workforce and create a pipeline of students to join the early education workforce. She also raised the issue of recent discriminatory policies targeting LGBTQ youth. Research suggests that LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely than non-LGBTQ young people to report feeling depressed or anxious or engaging in self-harm. Clark emphasized the need to support students and their needs as we recover from the challenges of this pandemic, not promote policies that alienate and exacerbate discrimination and mental health challenges.

In a second round of questioning, Clark asked Secretary Cardona about the need to ensure that low-income, homeless, and foster youth have access to financial aid resources and other support for higher education. She is the author of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, legislation to remove barriers and provide support to help students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care access and succeed in higher education. 

The House Committee on Appropriations has jurisdiction over funding issues regarding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, among related agencies. Clark has served on the House Committee on Appropriations since 2017.

Click HERE for footage of Clark’s first round of questioning before Secretary Cardona and HERE for the second round.