Biden budget proposals for the nation include 2 years of free PreK and community college

Walton County School Supt. Russell Hughes reading to students at the Wise Pre-K Center. Credit: Walton County School District.

With all the hoopla this week surrounding the signing of Florida’s state budget of 2021-22, don’t forget about the massive federal budget proposals that Congress will consider for Americans across the nation.

Similar to Gov. Ron DeSantis sending initial budget proposals to the Florida Legislature earlier this year, President Joe Biden last week sent his fiscal 2022 proposals to Congress.

Biden’s priority for his first budget is about the “American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan.”

According to Biden’s budget message, the jobs plan would put millions of people to work — rebuilding the nation’s transportation and water infrastructure and broadband connectivity infrastructure. A priority: Building a “clean energy future,” with workers making progress to tackle climate change.

In addition, the “American Jobs Plan will create new and better jobs for caregiving workers who have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long.”

The American Families Plan addresses what President Biden considers some of the biggest challenges facing American families today, according to his budget message.

For those families who have struggled to cover child care expenses and college costs, the federal budget would guarantee four additional years of education for every American: Two years of free universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4-year old in America, and two years of free community college.

The free community college would make college more affordable “and tackle equity gaps with increased Pell grants and investments in institutions serving low-income, first generation students, and students of color.”

“It would make college more affordable and tackle equity gaps with increased Pell grants and investments in institutions serving low-income, first generation students, and students of color. And it provides access to quality, affordable child care to low- and middle-income families, expanded access to healthy meals because no child in America should be hungry or under-nourished, comprehensive paid family and medical leave, and expanded game-changing tax credits for families and workers.”

Miguel Cardona, the U.S. Education of Secretary, said in a statement last week that, “addressing entrenched disparities in education is both a moral and economic imperative.”

In that regard, the budget proposal from the Biden administration would:

/Propose a historic $36.5 billion investment in grants for high-poverty “Title I schools,” a $20 billion increase from 2021 that would include examining inequities in schools funding systems and ensuring teachers in Title 1 schools are paid competitively.

/Provide $1 billion, in addition to the resources in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to increase the number of counselors, school psychologists, nurses, and social workers in schools.

/Increase by 2.7-billion the services for children with disabilities.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.