Mental health, community schools take lead at Fiscal Year 23 House hearing

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Diving Brief:

  • U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has promoted strong supports for school mental health and the expansion of community schools during a hearing Thursday of the House Education and Labor Committee on Capitol Hill. The intent of the hearing was to discuss the priorities of the US Department of Education and the proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, but lawmakers raised various issues, including support for schools, following the shooting in a school this week in Uvalde, Texas.
  • Community schools that have resources for students and families — such as education, health, and housing — in addition to increased Title I funds, can be long-term solutions for re-engaging students. students, partner with parents and help high-poverty areas, Cardona said.
  • Mental health and trauma services in schools remain crucial programs as students recover from the pandemic, Cardona said. “Fundamentally, our schools need to be transformative in their changes to ensure access to mental health is there for all students.”

Overview of the dive:

Budget requests from the Ed department $468 million to expand the full-service community schools program. The plan would add 800 community schools across the country to provide comprehensive socio-emotional, academic and health support to 2.5 million students and their families, said Roberto Rodríguez, assistant secretary of education for planning, evaluation and policy-making, during a budget briefing for fiscal year 23 in March.

This year’s federal budget allocates $75 million to community schools.

Another big request for FY23 is $1 billion for a new school health professional program to add counsellors, nurses, school psychologists, social workers and other health care professionals. health in schools. The plan includes creating a pipeline for professionals in these fields, with a focus on schools that support underserved students.

Cardona said the extra money for mental health can build on investments that started with US rescue plan funding. “For us at the Department of Education, we really see access to mental health as a pillar of how we reimagine schools,” he said.

An additional $350 million would be dedicated to identifying and scaling models that improve educator recruitment and retention, including efforts that would improve teacher resources and support.

The committee began the nearly four-hour hearing with a minute’s silence for the victims of the Uvalde shooting, their families and the entire community of Robb Elementary School. Intertwined with the budget discussion, many lawmakers referenced the deaths of 19 children and two teachers.

“I call on all of us, as members of the Education and Labor Committee, to do everything in our power to protect schools and communities from gun violence and to ensure may this most recent tragedy be the last,” commission chairman Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia, said in his opening remarks.

Representative Lucy McBath, a Democrat from Georgia, lost her son in 2012 to gun violence. “There is a pain that never goes away, and while it takes your baby, your children, it leaves you with this burning and undying determination to make sure this never happens to any other mother, to no other family, to no other community,” she said.

According to Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from Michigan, “everything has to be on deck, in our homes, in our schools, in our churches, and we want to work together, and we have for most of history. from this country.”

Ranking Member Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, said conversations about how to handle school safety and mental health need to be done thoughtfully. “Federal changes shouldn’t be rushed,” Foxx said.

She added: “Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, we stand ready to work with you to address federal issues within our jurisdiction to help families, schools and communities prevent these tragedies from happening. occur.”

The comprehensive budget proposed by the Department of Education aims $88.3 billion in discretionary spending, or 15.6% increase from fiscal year 2022. Title I would receive $36.5 billion, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs for K-12 students with disabilities would receive $16.3 billion.

Lawmakers expressed support for school stimulus initiatives, vocational and technical education programs, quality charter schools and more during Thursday’s hearing. Budget for FY23, which begins Oct. 1, must be approved by Congress