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Biden Administration Highlights “Multi-Language Learners” in FY23 Budget Proposal

Updated: Mar 30, 2022


WASHINGTON, D.C, March 29, 2022 -- Yesterday, March 28th, 2022, the Biden administration released its FY23 proposed federal budget. The proposed program funding levels are based on FY21 funding levels given that the FY22 Omnibus Appropriations Act was just recently completed. While the Department of Education will be issuing a revised budget with the FY22 funding levels, it remains unclear if the proposed FY23 funding levels will also be revised upwards. Additionally, analysis of proposed funding for language education related Department of Defense programs, such as the World Language Advancement and Readiness Grants Program, will be forthcoming. Congress will soon begin its appropriations process to propose a final bill to fund the government for FY23.

Overall, with the proposed FY23 budget, the Department of Education would receive a nearly $12.4 billion increase in FY23 over FY22, which is still a considerable scaling back of the President’s ambitious proposal to increase the Department of Education’s budget by 41% last year.

For language education programs, the budget boasts big changes in the English Learners space, including a continued commitment to shifting the language used by the Department to emphasize the value of multilingualism when addressing support for ELs. On funding, Title III would see a $244 million increase over FY22, pushing its total to over $1 billion. In the main budget document issued by the White House, a special section highlighted support for “‘Multi-Language Learners’: Students learning English as a second language disproportionately impacted by the multiple transitions to and from remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget would provide $1.1 billion for the English Language Acquisition (ELA) program, an increase of $278 million, or 35 percent, from the FY21 enacted level, including additional funding to provide technical assistance and build local capacity to better support multi-language learners and their teachers. The ELA program helps students learning English attain English proficiency and achieve academic success.”

The administration’s budget also emphasizes the need to address the teacher shortage by devoting $350 million in funding from the Education and Innovation Research grant program “toward identifying and scaling models that improve recruitment and retention of staff in education. Such models include those that would improve support for educators and provide teacher access to leadership opportunities that improve teacher retention and maximize the impact of great teachers beyond their classrooms.”

Unfortunately, the news for other language programs in the Department of Education was not as positive. If Congress were to enact this budget, the Education for Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native Education programs would both lose their FY22 gains of $1.5 million, and the Indian Education program would see a substantial reduction in its $8 million increase from FY22. International education programs in Title VI would also lose the full $3.5 million gained in FY22.

For education investments at-large, the proposed FY23 budget looks much like its predecessor as the President again seeks to make big K-12 investments in Title I (plus $19 billion), IDEA (plus $2.9 billion), and mental health (plus $1 billion). Many other programs received small increases, flat funding, or actual cuts most likely due to the use of FY21 numbers for the basis of the Department’s calculations. As a result of this reliance on old numbers, programs like Title II (minus $21 million) and Title IV (minus $60 million) would see the loss of small funding gains from last year and actual net decreases when compared to FY22.

On the higher education front, the budget makes a gigantic investment in Pell Grants, proposing to raise the maximum Pell award by $2,175. This is more than five times the increase that Congress just approved for FY22. Additionally, this budget continues the trend of increasing funding for HBCUs, MSIs and TCUs, providing an increase of $752 million over the 2021 enacted level. This funding includes a $450 million initiative to expand research and development infrastructure at four-year HBCUs, TCCUs, and MSIs.

JNCL-NCLIS will continue to advocate for increased funding for language and international education programs in the final FY23 appropriations bill. Advocates can register to receive action alerts through the JNCL-NCLIS Legislative Action Center to stay up to date and send messages to their Members of Congress.

Below is a chart showing how key programs fared in the President’s FY23 budget, the FY21 Omnibus Appropriations Act and the FY22 Omnibus:

_____________________________ About JNCL-NCLIS: Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language. Contact:

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