Dear Colleagues: 

This week Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced the Appropriations Subcommittees chairs, ranking members, and full rosters for the 118th Congress.

In a joint press release, Senators Murray and Collins said:

“There are so many critical challenges our country faces right now, and we are glad to have this capable and committed group of Senators to lead our subcommittees this Congress and work to solve problems in people’s lives through our appropriations bills… We look forward to working closely with all of our Subcommittee leaders and colleagues on the Committee in the months ahead to find common ground—and deliver for the American people.”

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Shelley More Capito (R-WV) will lead the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee and the full committee roster can be found here.

1. Senator Sanders Hosts Town Hall on Teacher Pay Crisis in America 

This week Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, hosted a town hall at the U.S. Capitol entitled “Respecting our Teachers: A Town Hall on the Teacher Pay Crisis in America.” Senator Sanders was joined by Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association (NEA),  Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) who joined the HELP Committee this year,  and four educators from across the nation.  In his opening remarks, Senator Sanders thanked our nation’s teachers, talked of the critical role educators play in ensuring we have the best educated workforce, and called for a $60,000 per year minimum salary for educators.

“If we understand that we live in a competitive global economy and that we need the best educated workforce in the world, we must understand that it is absurd that there are school districts throughout the country where there are major shortages of teachers… And if we understand the enormously important work that teachers do, that means, in my view, among many other things, that we should be paying public school teachers a minimum of at least $60,000 a year – and I will soon be introducing legislation to do just that,” said the Chairman.

It is anticipated that the legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks and is expected to not only address teacher pay but also include provisions that focus on comprehensive educator preparation and high poverty schools.

You can read Senator Sanders’ full opening statement here and watch the Town Hall in its entirety here.

2. U.S. Department of Education Announces First-Ever Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program Grants 

This week, the US Department of Education announced the first ever Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program grants to increase high-quality teacher preparation programs for teachers of color, strengthen the diversity of our teacher pipeline, and address teacher shortages. The Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program supports comprehensive, high-quality teacher preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions. This year marks the first time the Hawkins Program has received funding since it was founded in 2008. From the FY 2022 appropriation for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Congress allocated $8 million for the Hawkins program. The Department is also using funds appropriated for the Hawkins Program in FY 2023 to bring the total for the first round of grants to over $18 million.

In a statement, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said:

“Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, I’m incredibly proud to announce the first-ever Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program grants, which will help Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions recruit and prepare a new generation of diverse and talented individuals into the teaching profession…Today, more than half of our learners nationwide are students of color, and yet fewer than 1 in 5 educators come from communities of color. I’ll never forget the impact that my first teacher of color had on me as a student, and my experience tracks closely with years of research suggesting the profound, positive influence that educators of color have on students of all backgrounds.”

You can view the complete list of grantees here.

3. New Resources for Educators 

  • The National Center for Learning Disabilities a new report “Inclusive, Innovative Assessments for students with Learning Disabilities”.  The report includes: Findings from qualitative and quantitative research;  Principles for innovative assessments; An overview of current proposals; Federal, state, and local policy recommendations for equitable assessment systems
  • RAND Corporation released results from a new survey on “Educator Turnover Has Markedly Increased, but Districts Have Taken Actions to Boost Teacher Ranks”. The survey found that 10 percent of teachers retired or resigned in the 2021-22 school year, up 4 percentage points from pre-pandemic levels.


Congress and Washington Update are on recess next week, returning Friday March 3rd.


Until next time, see you on Twitter!