This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: The American Families Plan; CT’s Workforce Development Bill; and the New President of CSCUs.
Unpacking the American Families Plan
At the end of April, President Joe Biden unveiled his American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion federal investment that covers education, child care, and paid family leave in an attempt to equitably revitalize the economy. This is in addition to the COVID relief packages and Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The Biden administration is calling this plan a once-in-generation investment in the nation's future, and it says it will be paid for by taxing the richest Americans over 15 years.
Interestingly, however, the plan also requires state governments to bear some of these costs. For example, states will shoulder 10% of costs in pursuit of universal preschool up front, and more over time; as well as 25% of the average cost of community college, plus whatever is needed to bring down tuition costs in states that, like Connecticut, have higher than average price tags.
Among the investments, the American Families proposal would:
- Funnel $200 billion into universal preschool for qualifying 3- and 4-year olds.
- Expand educator scholarships, teacher residency programs, and special education teacher development.
- Invest in teacher preparation programs at historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority serving institutions.
- Spend $109 billion to make two years of community college free.
- Increase Pell Grant awards to address the rising costs of college.
- Reduce child care costs for low- and middle-class families.
- Bring wages for the child care workforce up to $15 an hour.
Higher Ed Provisions Removed from Workforce Development Bill
Here in Connecticut, the state legislature is weighing its own plans to reinvigorate the economy and workforce. In March, S.B. 881 - An Act Concerning Workforce Development was voted out of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement. (See Amy’s testimony in support.) At that time, one of the goals of the bill was to make completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a high school graduation requirement—with an objective of increasing the number of students seeking affordable postsecondary opportunities. The bill also sought to establish the Connecticut Automatic Admissions Program, which would grant all qualified students admission to the four Connecticut State Universities—presenting more economical options for high school graduates and increasing enrollment for the state’s colleges.
Unfortunately, both measures targeting increased affordability and postsecondary access were removed from the bill in the substitute language that was voted out of the Education Committee last week. We are hopeful that the efforts, which seek to benefit low-income and first generation college-bound students in Connecticut, can be revived in the final days of session.
Welcome To New CSCU President, Terrence Cheng!
Congratulations to Terrence Cheng, who was approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education on Friday as the next president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. At a press event, Cheng—who moved to America at a young age with his parents from Taiwan—said, "I consciously, cognizantly, carry with me the legacies of my own family, but also for all the first-generation and immigrant students that populate not only the great state of Connecticut, but so much of our nation." Since 2016, Cheng has been the director of UConn's Stamford campus. The role of CSCU President, formerly held by Mark Ojakian before he retired at the end of 2020, involves overseeing Connecticut's four state universities, 12 community colleges, and online Charter Oak College.