ERN Releases Statement on the Passage of the Build Back Better Act

Press Releases

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 19, 2021)—Education Reform Now (ERN) National President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement in response to today’s passage of the Build Back Better Act in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“We congratulate Congressional Democrats on the Build Back Better Act, which will make historic, transformational investments that will yield lifelong benefits for millions of children and families.

Significant investments for families include two years of universal Pre-K, the expansion of the child tax credit for an additional year, and reduced childcare costs for lower-income families. We also applaud Build Back Better for its historic levels of support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions of higher education.

We are especially pleased to see several of our hard-fought for investments for teacher preparation included in the Build Back Better Act. The $112 million for Hawkins Centers for Excellence will support teacher preparation programs at HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions to increase diversity in the country’s teaching workforce—an investment that has a direct benefit on educational outcomes for students.

Additionally, the $112 million allocated for high-quality teacher residency programs, and $112 million allocated for ‘Grow Your Own’ programs will have the potential to greatly expand teacher pipelines to not only support recruitment, but to also improve preparation so that educators have the knowledge, skills, and classroom experience to support every child from Day One. These investments have the potential to be transformative for our nation’s students, and we applaud the Biden administration and Congressional leadership for heeding the recommendations ERN put forth with our coalition partners.

The increase in Pell Grant aid to a maximum award of approximately $7,000 is a step in the right direction, as is the expansion of financial aid to students in DACA programs and the continued increased investment in minority-serving institutions to support infrastructure and financial aid. We especially commend the Build Back Better Act’s investment in postsecondary student retention and degree completion. Additional resources and policy changes are needed to generate better results and greater equity in a higher education system that isn’t working for the majority of Black and Latinx students and those from low-income backgrounds.

While the additional resources for postsecondary education are welcome, we are afraid much more policy change is needed to bring accountability and equity to a higher education system that isn’t working for the majority of Black and Latinx students and students from low-income backgrounds. 

We urge the Biden administration to continue to pursue opportunities for a reciprocal federal-state partnership in higher education that promises all students equitable access to an affordable, quality postsecondary education.

The Build Back Better Act is a tremendous accomplishment, but there’s still much work to be done, particularly when it comes to ensuring all children receive a quality education from preschool to and through college.”