AUSTIN (KXAN) — Educators from across the world will spend the next several days in Austin for SXSW EDU.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona joined a group of students at the conference Wednesday to speak on reimagining education. With the pandemic creating a major disruption in our education system, Cardona and federal officials said they are figuring out ways to put student voices at the center of recovery efforts.

Cardona spoke to KXAN and is calling for more transparency in where and how federal dollars are being used in our local districts. He wants to make sure it goes directly to the classroom, and students and parents have a say in how the money is spent.

Texas schools got well over $11 billion in funding last year to pay for things like personal protective equipment, technology and learning loss during the pandemic.

Cardona hopes more resources can go to things that will encourage social engagement and mental health support. He said one of the biggest challenges facing the education system now is complacency.

“I don’t want to go back to the system we had in 2020. That didn’t work for all kids. We have more money in education now, but I want to make sure we maintain a level of urgency to address those issues that were there before the pandemic,” Cardona explained to KXAN.

He is also calling on districts to provide more financial and emotional resources to keep teachers in the classroom. A study by the Texas American Federation of Teachers found more than half of all teachers considered leaving their jobs in the past year because of low wages, workload stress and health and safety concerns.

“It is unacceptable that teachers have to have two to three jobs to make ends meet,” Cardona said. “[We] need to make sure we are supporting the changes in their jobs. They are front-liners, they are first responders and concerned about the emotional wellbeing of their students. Let’s give them the tools they need to be successful and support them as educators as well.”