On April 29, 2021, President Biden beseeched legislators to act on the American Jobs Plan and outlined details about the American Families Plan in his first joint address to Congress. Both plans would increase funding for education programs and initiatives by hundreds of billions of dollars.
American Jobs Plan
The Biden Administration first announced the American Jobs Plan on March 31, 2021 and Biden described it as “a blue-collar blueprint to build America”. One provision of the plan is $45 billion allocation to replace lead pipes in homes and schools. Biden cites this proposal as a priority because “up to 10 million homes and more than 400,000 schools and childcare centers have pipes with lead in them.” Biden called the hazardous pipes a “clear and present danger to our children’s health.” Under the American Jobs plan, 100% of the lead pipes and services lines in America would be replaced so that all children can “turn on the faucet and be certain to drink clean water.” Another provision of the plan would allocate $100 billion to expand broadband internet service nationwide. As we have learned since March 2020, it is imperative for equal educational opportunities that all children have access to the internet to operate, thrive, and succeed although many still do not have that access. It is estimated that 90% of the jobs created under the plan would not require a college degree.
American Families Plan
On April 28, 2021, the Biden Administration announced the American Families Plan which would increase universal public education so that it not only included a free K-12 education, but also free pre-K (for every 3 and 4 year old) and two years of free community college for all students. During his address to Congress, Biden explained that research shows that when young children go to school, as opposed to day care, they are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college. The American Families Plan would provide $200 billion to expand pre-K. The federal government will be partner with the states to ensure the universal pre-K programs have low student-teacher ratios, a high quality and developmentally appropriate curriculum, and supportive classroom environments that are inclusive for all students.
The plan also includes $109 billion to provide two years of free community college so that every American student is able to obtain a degree or certificate as well as $62 billion for evidence-based strategies that improve college completion and retention rates. The Biden administration said the support for expanded college access could add to the number of qualified early childhood educators and K-12 teachers.
The administration is also proposing $9 billion to "train, equip, and diversify American teachers to ensure that our high school graduates are ready for success." The plan would double teacher scholarships from $4,000.00 to $8,000.00 per year and expand access to the scholarships to include early childhood education. The fund would include $2.3 billion for “grow your own” initiatives, $900 million for the development of special education teachers, and $1.6 billion “to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance.”
The plan would also increase the Community Eligibility Provision for school meals by providing $17 billion to reimburse a higher percentage of meals through CEP and lower the eligibility threshold for CEP in elementary schools from 40 percent poverty to 25 percent poverty. The administration estimates this would expand free meal access to 9.3 million students.
Neither the American Jobs Plan nor the American Families Plan have been considered by Congress. House Democratic leadership set a goal to pass the American Jobs Plan by July 4,
but it remains to be seen if the proposal or a compromise will be considered.