Government

American Families Plan: The Future of Public Education in America

READING TIME ~ 4 MINUTES

Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, one of Joe Biden’s biggest goals is to expand and improve America’s public education system. He states that he wants to increase teachers’ salaries, invest more money and resources into schools, and expand high-quality education to more children regardless of race, zip code, or parental income.  In the past month, President Biden has announced, and further specified, his plan for reforming public education during his time as president. 

Key Questions to Consider:

  1. What is Joe Biden’s plan for bettering education in America?
  2. What are opponents to Biden’s education reform saying? 

1: What is Joe Biden’s Plan for Bettering Education in America?

The White House has decided to call Biden’s course of action The American Families Plan, which encompasses the expansion of both education accessibility and child care. This plan is a part of Biden’s two-part, four trillion-dollar economic package, which seeks to reform American infrastructure, education, and family support. In total, this plan consists of $1.8 trillion worth of tax cuts and spending increases: one trillion in new spending, and 800 billion in tax credits to be exact. Biden’s proposition is not very different from the platforms of other prominent Democrats, as the value of increasing the quality of education for all Americans is a traditional Democratic standpoint.

So how will President Biden enhance education?  The American Families Plan includes funding for universal pre-kindergarten, free community college, a federal paid leave program, and more options for affordable child care. Biden and his administration hope that The American Families Plan will be an “investment in an inclusive economy that would help millions of Americans gain the skills and the work flexibility they need to build middle-class lifestyles” (The New York Times). 

For education specifically, Biden hopes to make enrollment at community college free for all.  The country’s standard K-12 system will be expanded up to “grade 14,” as the plan calls for two years of post-high school education at a free, local community college. In addition to these 2 free years of community college, Biden would like to reduce the reliance on student loans through an $85 billion investment in Pell Grants. Almost six million American students would pay no college tuition under this proposal. Furthermore,  the plan will create a new grant program for minority-serving institutions that will cover the majority of tuition and fees for low-income students for their first two years.

Overall, the effect of increasing access to affordable higher education will increase the number of college graduates, which in turn raises social mobility for lower-class Americans. “I cannot think of a single policy change that would affect the long-term prospects of as many people as this would,” said Robert Shapiro, former economic advisor to President Clinton and the lead author of a study on the effects of universal community college. 

Expanded child care and universal pre-kindergarten are two of Biden’s goals in The American Family Plan (Virginia Lozano / The New York Times). 

2: What are opponents of this expansion saying? 

One of the president’s biggest hopes is that his agenda will receive bipartisan support, and as of now, the contents of the American Families Plan poll well with Americans of diverse political views. This plan also has a good standing in Congress, as the Democratic Party supports it. However, Republicans in both the House and Senate have not demonstrated interest towards increasing federal spending on education, and they have expressed even less towards the proposed tax raises on the rich. The Biden administration has said they are willing to finance the plan through ‘alternative means’ to cooperate with Republicans. Even with firm opposition from the political right, the American Families Plan can bypass the Senate filibuster through the fast-pass process called budget reconciliation; this can only be done with the full support from the Democratic Caucus. 

President Biden to address the details of his American Families Plan to Congress (Erin Scott / The New York Times)

TL;DR

  • President Biden has proposed a $1.8 trillion education and family care plan called: The American Families Act.
  • His new proposal consists of government-subsidized preschool and pre-kindergarten, increased access to community college for students, and more affordable childcare options for working families. 
  • Specifically, Biden wants to make free community college an option for all Americans, which will have a positive effect on 
  • This plan consists of tax cuts and increased spending on education, which is not favored by much of the right, but the bill can be passed without much Republican support. 

Sources

https://joebiden.com/education/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/us/politics/biden-american-families-plan.html?searchResultPosition=2

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/weekly-education-coronavirus-special-edition/2021/04/26/your-cheat-sheet-for-bidens-free-community-college-plan-794873

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/28/biden-american-families-plan-could-make-free-college-a-reality.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-speech-education-free-pre-k-grade-14/

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