Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Federal

7 Takeaways for Educators From Biden’s State of the Union

By Evie Blad — March 02, 2022 3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington as Vice President Kamala Harris applauds and House speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., looks on.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address mentioned students and schools alongside pressing national issues like COVID-19 recovery and foreign relations.

But maybe you’re a stressed out educator who was too busy to watch? We’ve got your back. Here’s a cheat sheet of K-12 education mentions in the address. Read complete coverage of the State of the Union here.

Mental health: Biden called for bipartisan action to respond to a national mental health crisis, paying particular attention to concerns about children and teens. He will propose $1 billion in new federal spending for school psychologists and counselors, and he wants to cut red tape to make it easier for schools to bill Medicaid for mental health services. “Let’s take on mental health,” Biden said. “Especially among our children, whose lives and education have been turned upside down.”

Tutoring and mentoring: In making the pitch that"we can all play a part in schools’ COVID-19 recovery,” Biden urged Americans to “sign up to be a tutor or a mentor.” His comments came as schools report staffing and volunteer shortages for things like after-school programs.

How parents can keep the pressure on: “The American Rescue Plan gave schools money to hire teachers and help students make up for lost learning,” Biden said. “I urge every parent to make sure your school does just that.” In a fact sheet, the administration said it would continue encouraging schools to spend relief funds on things like individual and small group instruction, more instructional staff, tutoring programs, and after-school and summer learning efforts. But some education advocates have lamented the lack of transparency in how schools spend $130 billion in aid provided through the American Rescue Plan. And organizations like the National Parents Union have urged families to speak up about how their schools use the funds.

COVID-19 and school closures: “Our schools are open,” Biden said. “Let’s keep it that way.” Republicans have raised school closures in midterm campaigns, and the Biden administration has stressed that schools have the tools they need to stay open, even if future variants emerge. Federal health officials gave schools in most of the country the green light to lift mask requirements in new guidance Friday.

Infrastructure: Biden touted measures in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed in November that will help expand broadband access and to close the “homework gap” for students without internet at home. The bill also provides some funding to replace major lead pipes that lead to schools.

Pre-K and college: Biden called for “pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old,” a proposal that was part of his Build Back Better plan, which stalled in the Senate. It’s unclear how he may repackage some of those social spending priorities in another legislative push. He also called for expanding the maximum Pell grant for low-income students, a less- ambitious version of his previous proposal, which called for two years of free college for all Americans. And he made a pitch for increased support for historically Black colleges and universities.

Transgender students: Biden had a message for transgender young people: I will always have your back as your president, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential.” His administration has asserted that transgender student rights are protected under Title IX, but some advocates have called for more-aggressive action as states like Florida consider bills to limit discussion of gender identity in schools and as Texas moves to investigate gender-affirming care as child abuse.

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What the Research Says Education Research Has Changed Under COVID. Here's How the Feds Can Catch Up
Adam Gamoran, chairman of a National Academies panel on the future of education research, talks about the shift that's needed.
5 min read
Graphic shows iconic data images all connected.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Federal What the CDC's Relaxed Mask Recommendations Mean for Schools
Federal officials adopted new metrics that will give districts the green light to end mask mandates in a broad swath of the country.
6 min read
Kindergarten students sit in their classroom on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles on April  2021.
Kindergarten students sit in their classroom on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles on April 2021.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Federal CDC Plans Update to Indoor Mask Guidance. How Could That Apply to Schools?
The CDC will soon update its general masking guidance, but has yet to say how any changes will affect recommendations for schools.
3 min read
Emily Jeter helps her son Eli, a kindergarten student, get his mask on before heading into his Tulsa, Okla., elementary school in August 2021.
Emily Jeter helps her son Eli, a kindergarten student, get his mask on before heading into his Tulsa, Okla., elementary school in August 2021.
Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP
Federal Opinion What Stephen Breyer’s Resignation Means for Education
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is stepping down. Here’s what that means for education.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty