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President Biden's Budget Emphasizes Multilingualism

JNCL-NCLIS Analysis of FY24 President's Budget Request


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9th, 2023 - Today, President Biden unveiled his budget request for fiscal year 2024. Under his proposal, the Department of Education (ED) would receive $90.6 billion in discretionary spending, a $10.8 billion (or 13.6%) increase from FY23 enacted levels. During an afternoon briefing, senior officials from ED touted different programmatic increases and highlighted several of President Biden’s top education priorities – including expanding access to free pre-K, making community college free, creating a path to double the Pell Grant, and subsidizing tuition at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). While some programs would see significant increases in Biden’s budget proposal, a few key K-12 programs – including Title II-A and Impact Aid – would receive level-funding, and others – such as Title IV-A – would receive slender increases. The major winners in the President’s budget include Title I (+$2.2 billion) and Title III (+$305 million). The President’s budget is very much aspirational, and it will endure scrutiny from a House Republican majority that has already vowed that it will not approve a debt ceiling increase without concessions on federal spending.

The President’s budget makes multilingualism a centerpiece of his going forward agenda. Most significantly, it requests “a name change to the Office of English Language Acquisition to the Office of Multilingual and English Learners, promoting the Office’s Director to Assistant Secretary, and adding staff capacity, to elevate the federal obligation to English Learners and strengthen Title III’s program administration.” These are all major requests of JNCL and the National English Learner Roundtable.

Additionally, his budget request contains a $305 million increase for Title III – English Language Acquisition and is a cornerstone of ED’s core theme of creating pathways for global engagement. Within this additional funding, the President proposes to spend $100 million on educator professional learning, with $90 million going towards multilingual educator pipelines and professional development in multilingualism for existing school staff and teachers, and $10 million for post-secondary fellowships to improve multilingual educator preparation. It also includes $25 million to support a new Raising the Bar on Multilingualism program to assist districts in scaling high-quality dual language learning and instruction.

Throughout Thursday’s briefing, senior officials from ED – Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, Under Secretary James Kvaal, and Assistant Secretary Roberto Rodriguez – focused their remarks on four core themes:

  1. Achieve academic excellence.

  2. Boldly improve learning conditions.

  3. Create pathways for global engagement.

  4. Make postsecondary education inclusive and affordable.

The first three themes are a part of ED’s Raise the Bar call to action to transform P-12 education and advance education equity and excellence through evidence-based approaches. The last theme points to efforts in the postsecondary space outside of P-12 education. During the briefing and in a fact sheet released by the White House, administration officials pointed to increases and provisions within the budget to address these themes. ED’s full budget summary can be accessed here.

While the appropriations timeline is still up in the air, we should see House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees hold hearings on the budget later this spring and early this summer. The appropriations process will likely differ from the past few years with new rules negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during his bid to become speaker. These rules include no earmarks and no omnibus appropriations package. This means that each subcommittee’s bill (i.e. Labor-Health and Human Services-Education) must move and pass alone.

Below is a breakdown of key K-12 programs:

_______________________________ 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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