Education investment is again a central part of the latest budget proposal in the Biden administration, but will it come to fruit?
President Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” infrastructure rebuilding plan includes a proposed $751 million in education investment, making up nearly a fifth of the whole. The goal of the various new measures is to improve equity in education, providing a stronger academic start for children from low-income families and underserved communities, increasing their odds of getting into university and subsequently landing higher-paying jobs.
Central to the proposed programs are two massive education-for-all measures. The proposed budget would provide two years of free preschool to every American child, and two years of free community college to every adult. They would also massively expand child care subsidies for families and federal financial aid programs for low-income 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.”
Opponents to the plan call it a step toward socialism and say that it will drive inflation faster than wages can keep up with, as if that weren’t already the case. They even object to the increased aid for child care.
“We should be focused on ensuring hardworking taxpayers can find the best care for their children rather than blindly throwing money at the problem and calling it a solution,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.
Compromises have already been made, including slashing a fund meant to support historically black (and historically underfunded) colleges and universities, and a budget earmarked for repairing too-old school buildings.
Educational equity will be a major step towards job equity, a state towards which the United States has so far only begrudgingly crept.