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How Would President Biden’s $2.5 Trillion Infrastructure Proposal Impact Education?

White HouseThis blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.  

President Biden Unveils Massive Infrastructure Bill with Billions for Education

On Wednesday, President Biden took his first steps towards a months-long sprint to pass a $2.5 trillion infrastructure and jobs bill. The robust plan includes an emphasis on rebuilding America’s schools, broadband access, and increasing access to Community Colleges. Biden is proposing  $100 billion to help repair crumbling classrooms and build new public school buildings. The plan includes $50 billion in direct grants for school construction and an additional $50 billion through bonds. The allocation is slightly less than what House Democrats have proposed in their school construction legislation. The bill, H.R. 604 (117), introduced by House Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) calls for $100 billion in direct grants and another $30 billion in interest subsidies on bonds that states or school districts issue to pay for school construction. The President’s plan also has provisions aimed at allowing schools to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental policies, including helping school kitchens “go green by reducing or eliminating the use of paper plates and other disposable materials,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Additionally, the package pitches $12 billion in new funding for states to upgrade the physical and technological infrastructure of their community colleges. Part of that funding will involve “identifying strategies to address access to community college in education deserts,” the White House said. Additionally, the plan asks Congress to allocate $48 billion for workforce training and worker protection programs. The new funding would double the number of new registered apprenticeships and support career pathways programs in middle and high schools. The White House said the proposal also includes “focused investments” in STEM programs for students at historically Black colleges and universities and c Of $40 billion targeted to improving research infrastructure and labs, half would be directed to HBCUs and other MSIs. An additional $50 million is provided for the National Science Foundation.

Other education related items include $45 billion to upgrade the nation’s drinking water infrastructure and $100 billion to expand broadband, with a focus on addressing inequities highlighted by the pandemic.

The road from Wednesday’s announcement to bill passage will be a bumpy one. Republicans are already balking, dismissing Biden’s efforts to gain bipartisan support as disingenuous, and preparing a messaging campaign against the package that will almost certainly force Democrats to go it alone while they simultaneously juggle competing wish lists from their members across the ideological spectrum. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said the proposal is “not nearly enough.”  and she’s not alone; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) proposed a $10 trillion climate plan  this week.

Earlier this year, Democrats used a fiscal 2021 budget resolution to unlock the reconciliation process for the American Rescue Plan Act. The resolution allowed Democrats to pass the measure with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is now asking the Senate parliamentarian if he can revise that budget resolution so that he can use the reconciliation process again to pass the infrastructure bill with a simple majority.  It is unclear how the Senate parliamentarian will rule on Schumer’s request.

President Biden hopes to see Congress enact the proposal by mid-summer.

 Professional Development Opportunity

The Institution of Education Sciences in partnership with the Educator Pipeline Research Alliance invites you to join a webinar exploring how a new tool that predicts patterns of teacher shortages is being used to address the teacher supply chain in Missouri. Presenters Paul Katnik of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Joshua Stewart of REL Central will describe the development and use of the Missouri Teacher Predictor Model and share how the model might be adapted for other states. The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 15 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. EST. Register here: The Institution of Education Sciences in partnership with the Educator Pipeline Research Alliance

Read the full Washington Update on my website for more information. Follow us on twitter: @janewestdc and @brennan_kait.

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant