Skip to main content

Legislative Update

President Biden Introduces the American Families Plan

By Jodi Peterson

Posted on 2021-05-07

President Biden Introduces the American Families Plan

Last week President Biden announced the American Families Plan, which includes $200 billion for universal pre-K for all three-and four-year-olds, $109 billion for two years of free community college for all Americans, and funding to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students. The plan also calls for $9 billion to improve teacher training and support.

In a statement, the President said “The American Families Plan is an investment in our children and our families—helping families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lowering health insurance premiums, and continuing the American Rescue Plan’s historic reductions in child poverty. Together, these plans reinvest in the future of the American economy and American workers, and will help us out-compete China and other countries around the world.”

The $9 billion investment in teachers would be used to improve training and support, address teacher shortages, and boost teacher diversity.

Specifically, President Biden is calling on Congress to double scholarships from $4,000 to $8,000 per year and expand scholarships to early childhood educators. The plan invests $2.8 billion in Grow Your Own teacher programs and year-long, paid teacher residency programs, targets $400 million for teacher preparation at schools and universities that serve minority populations, and $900 million for the development of special education teachers.

The plan also calls for $1.6 billion to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance. Priority would go to teachers with at least two years of experience at schools with a significant portion of low-income students or significant teacher shortages. 

Finally, the American Families Plan also calls for $2 billion to support programs that leverage teachers as leaders, such as high-quality mentorship programs for new teachers and teachers of color.

Update on The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the State plan application to support states in describing how they will use resources under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund. States must submit their ARP ESSER State plans by June 7, 2021.

Last month, states received access to two-thirds of their ARP ESSER allocation—a total of $81 billion. The remaining $41 billion will become available after states’ plans are approved by the Department.

“Throughout my recent school visits, I have witnessed how federal relief dollars are being used to help schools reopen safely and communities recover from the impacts of the pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These American Rescue Plan funds are essential to providing more in-person learning options for students quickly, sustaining schools’ safe operations, supporting our students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs, and boldly addressing inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic. In developing plans to utilize these funds, it’s critical that states and districts bring to the table the voices of those who can best speak to how we can meet these goals, including students, parents, educators, and stakeholders.”

More information from the Department of Education on this program can be found here.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communications, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Asset 2