WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to a congressional announcement of a bipartisan omnibus appropriations agreement for fiscal year 2022:
“Budgets are a statement of priorities. And getting a budget done is a statement to Americans that government can work and deliver. With this agreement, both parties in Congress demonstrate a willingness to invest in recovery and help improve everyday lives by investing in public education, infrastructure, healthcare, international security and COVID-19 safety. This budget framework outlines a plan that continues rebuilding our economy with a real focus on the needs of workers and children. That’s how aspiration trumps anxiety.
“Within the proposal, there are several increases for programs that help students and marginalized communities directly, including a $1 billion increase for Title I, a $406 million increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a $45 million increase for community schools, a $543 million increase for early childhood education, and millions for academic enrichment and career and technical education. These investments focus on helping the people who need it most; they will significantly improve the ability of our public schools to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students, particularly the most vulnerable. The proposal also offers a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant, making higher education a more affordable and accessible reality, and prioritizes mental health with a $994 million increase, as well as an additional $299 million to combat the opioid epidemic. The agreement funds the ongoing COVID-19 response, with $15.6 billion in funding to further provide the tools that help keep us safe as we embrace normalcy. And it provides much-need funding and aid to Ukrainians for security and humanitarian needs.
“Government works best when it sees the true needs of the people it serves and delivers on them. We thank congressional leadership and urge swift passage.”