The President and First Lady will mark the start of the school year by visiting students at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Washington, D.C. When President Biden took office, less than half of K-12 students were going to school in person. Today, thanks to the President’s swift actions and historic investments, every school in America is open safely for in-person instruction. Since Day One, President Biden has worked to help every school open safely for in-person instruction, accelerate academic achievement, and build communities where all students feel they belong. The actions the President has taken to support schools and the students they serve, include:
Securing the Largest Investment in Public Education in History to Help Students Get Back to School and Recover Academically: COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges for kids, from school closures to lost instructional time and social isolation from their peers. To support the immediate response and the long-term recovery work our students need, the President secured $130 billion through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help schools safely reopen, stay open, and address the academic and mental health needs of students. American Rescue Plan funding has put more teachers in our classrooms and more counselors, social workers, and other staff in our schools; is providing high-quality tutoring; supporting record expansion of summer and after-school programming; supporting HVAC improvements within school buildings to address air quality and environmental and safety needs in aging school buildings; and providing a wide range of student supports. Compared with the pre-pandemic period, as of the end of last year school year, the number of public school social workers is up 39% and the number of public school nurses is up 30%. Nearly half of school districts using these funds to expand summer learning programs have shown clear gains in math. While we have further to go, we are seeing increased evidence of improvement, including several states returning to pre-pandemic levels of achievement on their state math and literacy assessments.
Expanding Access to Mental Health Support in Schools Across the Country: Students around the nation continue to grapple with mental health challenges. Rates of depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness were already on the rise, but unprecedented disruptions in their school and social lives in the past years, have exacerbated these concerns. That’s why the President named tackling the mental health crisis, particularly among America’s young people, a top priority. Last year, the President signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) into law last year as the first major federal gun safety bill passed in nearly 30 years. BSCA included historic levels of funding to address youth mental health, including $2 billion for ED to create safe, inclusive learning environments for students and hire and train more mental health professionals for schools – where students are most likely to receive these crucial services. ED has awarded $286 million to date across 264 grantees in 48 states and DC to support mental health services in schools – investments that are estimated to support more than 14,000 new mental health professionals in schools in the coming years. ED is also working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to further extend the reach of Federal mental health programs and investments into schools, and to leverage Medicaid funding to provide crucial health and mental health services at schools. Earlier this year, the Administration released comprehensive guidance to make it easier for schools to bill Medicaid, including proposing a rule that would streamline Medicaid billing permissions to deliver mental health services to students. The Administration also launched a technical assistance center to help schools take advantage of this crucial funding stream – which supported an additional investment of more than $6 billion in schools in 2022.
Expanding Community Schools that Improve Academic Success: Meeting the needs of the whole child is essential to help America’s students grow academically and improve their well-being. That’s why the President is committed to increasing and supporting the adoption of community school models across the country. Full-Service Community Schools leverage local non-profit, private sector, and public partnerships to bring wraparound services into school buildings, such as health services, and assistance with shelter and nutrition. Research has shown that these schools contribute to increased student attendance, on-time grade progression, and high school graduation. Because of the President’s commitment to this model, federal funding for this model has increased five-fold over the course of this Administration. While the program supported 170 schools before 2021 it is now reaching more than 1,700 schools serving almost 800,000 students. Additionally, agencies across the federal government have also identified the ways that additional resources can support the expansion of this model and further integrate wraparound supports into our schools.
Expanding Teacher and Staff Capacity by Bringing in Tutors and Mentors: To provide students with the support they need to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the President issued a call to action to bring 250,000 more tutors, mentors and other critical supports into schools over three years. Last summer, the Department of Education (ED), AmeriCorps, and the Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center launched the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), a public-private partnership to accomplish this goal. To support this effort, ED recently launched a call to action to colleges, encouraging them to devote a greater share of their Federal Work-Study funds to bring college students into K-12 schools as tutors and in other high-impact roles. Early adopters include more than two dozen colleges ranging from large public university systems, like the State University of New York, to Howard University and Hispanic-serving institutions. In the coming weeks, the NPSS will highlight progress towards the President’s goal during the 2022-2023 school year.
Growing an Effective Teacher and School Leadership Workforce: From February to May 2020, communities lost 730,000 local public education jobs during the pandemic—a 9 percent decline in local public education employment—including teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, and other critical staff. As of June 2023, local public education employment has increased by 635,000 jobs since its low point in May 2020. This significant rebound now means that there are now only 1.2 percent fewer individuals working in local public education than before the pandemic; this progress has been significantly fueled by investments in educators through the American Rescue Plan and other Administration investments. The President has prioritized building an effective, diverse teacher pipeline, including by expanding high-quality and affordable programs that prepare and support teachers, including teacher Registered Apprenticeships. Registered Apprenticeship can be an effective, high-quality “earn and learn” model that allows prospective teachers to earn their credential while earning a salary by combining coursework with structured, paid on-the-job learning experiences with a mentor teacher. The Administration has worked closely with States to grow the number of registered apprenticeship programs for teachers from 2 to 23, with bipartisan Governors across the country scaling this effective model. The Department has also advanced teacher diversity by including priorities focused on educator diversity in 14 grant programs, totaling over $470 million and funding; for the first time, funding a teacher preparation program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to help accelerate the pace of preparing teachers of color for America’s schools. The Department’s Raise the Bar Policy Brief highlights progress by states across the country, with the support of the Administration, in advancing key strategies to eliminate educator shortages in the long term.
Directing Resources to Historically Underserved Schools and Students: The President’s leadership has garnered substantial increases for Federal student support programs to meet the needs of historically underserved students. The President has secured a nearly $2 billion (or 11%) increase in Title I funds, which delivers critical resources to 90 percent of school districts across the Nation and helps them provide students in low-income communities with necessary academic opportunities and supports. Additionally, the President has secured a historic $1.3 billion (or 10%) increase in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds, which helps States support special education instruction and services for 7.4 million students with disabilities, and increased funding by $92 million for programs that support English learners. The Administration has also increased funding to support subpopulations of students, including Alaska Native Education and Native Hawaiian Education programs which have increased by over 20%.