Washington DC, Sept 27, 2021 — As Democrats push ahead with President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan, they’re promising historic investments across the arc of an education — from early childhood to college and beyond — in what advocates describe as the most comprehensive package of its kind in decades.
The education provisions in Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal would serve as a bedrock for schooling opportunities for countless Americans and test the nation’s willingness to expand federal programs in far-reaching ways.
Equity is a focus, as it seeks to remove barriers to education that for decades have resulted in wage and learning disparities based on race and income. And by expanding early education and child care programs, it aims to bring back workers, especially women, who left jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic to look after children whose schools were closed.
All told, Americans would be entitled to two years of free preschool plus two years of free community college. Millions of families would be eligible for expanded child care subsidies. And there would be more federal financial aid for low-income college students.
“We haven’t done anything like that in my memory,” said Jessica Thompson, associate vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success, an education nonprofit. “It’s the dream.”
Congress is working to meet Monday’s self-imposed deadlines, and Biden’s broader proposal could come before the House later in the week. But Democrats must first overcome divisions within their own ranks over the scope of the plan. The $3.5 trillion proposal reaches nearly every aspect of American life, from health care and taxes to the climate and housing, largely paid for by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. – AP