WASHINGTON—American Association of University Professors President Irene Mulvey and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statements after the House Education and Labor Committee released its portion of the text of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.
The AAUP’s Mulvey said: “The Build Back Better Act represents a historic and long-overdue investment in higher education—as well as a meaningful down payment on the additional changes needed to aid our colleges and universities, and the people who make them run. Increased Pell Grant funding, a new college retention and completion fund, and tuition subsidies at minority-serving institutions are important initiatives that will help students at a wide range of institutions, and go beyond the free community college funding that is the signature program of this bill.
“The promise of a new federal-state partnership to increase college affordability and access is essential and can go a long way toward addressing the long-standing problem of disinvestment in higher education at the state level. We urge members of Congress to support this first step toward a New Deal for higher education.”
The AFT’s Weingarten said: “This bill contains many vital components that will help our kids and their families succeed, but today I want to lift up the foundational investments that will build higher education back better. Postsecondary education is a key part of the knowledge economy and a pathway to a stronger America. Both Congress and the Biden administration understand we have a unique chance for our schools, colleges and students to thrive—and that we need to seize it.
“Tuition-free community college, increasing the value of Pell Grants, new investments in helping students stay in college and in training to address teacher shortages, and the additional support for historically Black colleges and universities are critical to increasing opportunity for all.
“Congress should pass this bill immediately—but it should be considered a floor, not a ceiling, for a new era of accessible and affordable higher education that treats faculty and staff with dignity and respect. We need a New Deal for higher education, and this is a crucial and necessary first step to get us there.”