February 6, 2023
I hope this letter finds you well. On January 24, 2023, I shared the U.S. Department of Education's focus for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The purpose of this communication is to share those priorities directly with you and to ask that we join forces to Raise the Bar for all students across the country. The link here will take you to the remarks and the link here will take you to a video of the event, including a Q&A session facilitated by Nathan Monell, the executive director of the National PTA.
The goals for the Department have been shaped by the extensive learning we've gathered from those in the field, including parents and families; state, district, and school leaders; teachers; workforce partners, and other stakeholders. There has never been a more important time for us to intentionally collaborate so that, together, we can prepare our students to truly thrive.
The Department's goals are:
Achieving Academic Excellence for all children, including children who live in multilingual families and children with disabilities, so they receive the assistance they need to recover lost instructional time, by emphasizing literacy and math concepts, rigorous learning standards, and well-rounded learning opportunities that include early childhood education; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and the arts.
Boldly Improving Learning Conditions to ensure every child has access to proactive mental health supports in an inclusive and supportive environment that nurtures the student's and family's well-being. It also means that every student is taught by a certified teacher, who is provided with professional learning opportunities and a competitive salary.
Creating Pathways for Global Engagement by evolving our P-12 systems, in coordination with higher education institutions and workforce partners, to establish multiple pathways to college and the careers of today and tomorrow. Preparing for global competitiveness also includes more and better opportunities for our students to be multilingual.
In all of this work, we will continue to intentionally engage with and listen to parents and families regarding the needs of their children.
In the coming weeks, we will follow up and share a more detailed description with links to specific strategies and available grant funding streams. We believe that if we can align our focus on these strategies at the federal, state, and local levels, together, we will be more successful in improving education across the country and preparing our students for lifelong success.
As you know, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provided a significant down payment on transformational change in education. However, these funds alone will be insufficient to ensure that our system improves to the level needed for our country to lead across international indicators. For too long, we have been complacent, ranking 36th out of 79 countries in mathematics education on the PISA exam, or having only roughly a third of our nation's fourth graders reading on or above grade level, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
We will continue to advocate for increased federal funding to support states and districts, where, in so many places, we have seen ARP dollars advancing innovative efforts to close academic achievement and opportunity gaps. Over the last two years, our annual budget proposals have included historic increases for programs that aim to improve student outcomes.
Our collective will to invest in education and seize the possibilities afforded to us by the disruption over the last three years will determine the opportunities we can provide for our students and the potential our country has to lead the world in education.
We, at the Department of Education, want to partner with you and your teams to see how we can best support you as, together, we aim higher for our students. I encourage you to reach out to Lauren Mendoza , deputy assistant secretary for state and local outreach, who is available to provide you and your teams with more information or to schedule a follow-up meeting. Through intentional collaboration, and an unrelenting focus on our students and families, the best years in education are ahead of us.
Education is an investment in our children, and in our country's future.
Join us as we Raise the Bar!
Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D.
U.S. Secretary of Education