Education and Workforce In President Biden’s Third State of the Union

In March, President Joe Biden delivered his third State of the Union address to Congress – his final one before the 2024 elections. During a speech in which he discussed a number of urgent priorities, the President included a specific focus on education and strategies to better connect education with the workforce. 

Among the education and workforce-related policies the President highlighted: 

    • Early education. “I want to give every child a good start by providing access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. Studies show that children who go to preschool are nearly 50% more likely to finish high school and go on to earn a 2- or 4-year degree no matter their background,” said the President. 
    • Tutoring and out-of-school learning. “I want to expand high-quality tutoring and summer learning time and see to it that every child learns to read by third grade.”
    • Career pathways. “I’m also connecting businesses and high schools so students get hands-on experience and a path to a good-paying job whether or not they go to college.”
    • College affordability. “Let’s continue increasing Pell Grants for working- and middle-class families and increase our record investments in HBCUs and Hispanic and Minority-serving Institutions.”
    • Educator pay. “While we’re at it I want to give public school teachers a raise!”  

Several of the priorities highlighted by the President directly reflect priorities put forward by the America Forward Coalition. 

In the most recent version of America Forward’s Early Learning Policy Platform, the Coalition has made numerous recommendations to not only expand access to early learning for young children, but to ensure that early learning programs are equitable, effective, and prioritize investments in students and educators alike. 

In its K-12 Policy Platform, America Forward calls on policymakers to “encourage and incentivize scalable, evidence-based tutoring models” and “develop and implement evidence-based, trauma-informed, whole-learner approaches,” that cover both in-school and out-of-school time. The Coalition specifically uplifts the role of high-quality partners in helping educators, school leaders, and families provide this kind of comprehensive, learner-centered support to students. The Coalition also encourages policymakers to provide a wide range of support for educators – not just increased salaries, but evidence-based professional development, mentorship, and peer learning opportunities that make educators feel valued and empowered.

Similarly, in the Coalition’s Higher Education and Economic Mobility Policy Platforms, the organizations that make up the America Forward Coalition have called for a number of policies to make college more accessible and to create stronger pathways into the workforce – for students coming from higher education or those who don’t attend college. This includes supporting high-quality organizations working to help students make the transition from high school to college, linking specific funding for Institutions of Higher Education’s to student outcomes, and supporting innovative workforce development programs that meet potential workers where they are and reflect the needs of local economies.   

As the Biden Administration continues the work of making progress on the priorities the President outlined in his speech – and looks ahead to the 2024 election – America Forward looks forward to working with key Administration and campaign officials to build stronger policy frameworks, uplift valuable models, secure vital resources, and move all of America forward. 

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