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Build Back Better: Educational Equity in the Disability Community

By Morgan Davis, NACDD Intern

Educational goals within the Build Back Better Plan:

The Build Back Better Plan, a piece of legislation proposed by the Biden Administration, is a plan that would help revitalize the economy, by creating jobs, funding healthcare programs, and allocating money for multi-level educational institutions. These institutional investments range from investments in common Pre- Kindergarten and an 82 – Billion Dollar investment in differing public school programs to investing 111 Billion Dollars toward lowering the cost of Higher Education.  The Build Back Better Act is looking to invest in both Community Colleges and colleges and universities serving Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) populations.  These institutions include Native American Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Specifically, the act would invest

$45,500,000,000 in eliminating the costs of Community College and $27,500,000,000 in tuition reduction of low-income students attending Tribal Colleges and HBCUs

Why are investments important?

These investments are important for many reasons.  The first reason is because eliminating financial barriers to college access allows an increased number of people to get their degree without the burden of finances.  Financial strain is often a determining factor when deciding to go to college.  This is especially true for low-income students.  A second reason these investments are important is because they tackle the racial equity issue regarding BIPOC students in higher educational settings.  According to an article published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, eliminating Community College tuition and increasing the monetary value of grants presented by universities, help individual career earnings of students long term, thus helping to lessen racially focused  socio-economic wealth gaps.

The impact of educational investments on individuals with disabilities:

The investments made by the Build Back Better Plan would also have an impact on individuals with disabilities.  This is because the Disability Community is an intersectional community.  This means that it includes people from all walks of life; people of various cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses.  This means that investments that positively benefit members of the BIPOC community also benefit the Disability Community.  The Disability Community is an inclusive one in that respect.

Additionally, the Build Back Better Plan would also invest in the education of individuals with disabilities directly.  Specifically, the act states that it would provide ” $297,000,000 for grants to eligible entities for the development of personnel to serve children with disabilities, as described in section 662 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”  These investments prove that the Build Back Plan is dedicated to inclusive education for all and the act would be a fierce tool in the fight for overall educational equity.

What to take away from this information:

The Build Back Better Plan would serve as a great equity tool overall. Not only would it create jobs and job training opportunities, but it would also work to better the inequalities of the educational system on multiple levels.  By investing money in the elimination of Community College tuition and investing in schools that serve BIPOC communities the plan would make college access easier.  Additionally, by making these investments, the plan would be helping Individuals with Disabilities because many members of the Disability Community are also part of BIPOC Communities.

The last thing to take away from the information is that the plan would also serve children with disabilities directly.  It plans to invest money in entities that serve children with disabilities, by doing this, the act is also targeting educational equity for youth with disabilities.  It’s imperative to remember that the Disability Community is a diverse community with many different types of people.  Educational and financial investments from the Build Back Better Plan would help people in the community have greater freedom and autonomy in their life because the investments would encourage integrative and diverse opportunities that help people with various disabilities to thrive in the current economy.