In the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing titled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Department of Education,” on May 16, 2023, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona defended the proposed education budget of the Biden administration. The proposed budget includes an increase of $10.8 billion from fiscal 2023, with increased funding for programs such as Title I, students with disabilities, English language learners, early childhood education, mental health supports, and community schools. The Administration does recognize the importance of addressing the mental health needs of students and promoting their well-being throughout their educational experience.

The Majority Committee members focused on their disapproval of the Administration’s policies regarding transgender athletes’ participation in school athletics, student debt relief, and civics education during the hearing, pointing to declines in student achievement, especially in civics and American history, suggesting that the department’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion contributed to these declines. Secretary Cardona refuted these allegations and stated that his actions demonstrate his dedication to reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican committee members also took issue with the department’s proposed adjustments to Title IX, which would permit transgender students to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity. Cardona defended the proposed changes by asserting that they would extend opportunities for all students to participate in sports without discrimination.

The hearing was strongly focused on the education budget, declines in student achievement, school reopening’s during the pandemic, and Title IX proposals pertaining to transgender athletes, and showcased the stark differences in opinion.

By Asia Leach, Policy Intern