MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - As President Joe Biden spotlights education in his American Families Plan, the City of Mesa is already rolling out one of the plan's flagship measures: two years of free community college. "Money is not going to be an excuse for you not to go to community college," said Mesa Mayor John Giles.
The program is called the Mesa College Promise, ensuring eligible Mesa high school graduates with a 2.0 GPA or higher can attend Mesa Community College for two years at no cost. Giles says he's pleased that Biden has free community college as part of his American Families Plan. "For us to make meaningful progress, we do need to have partnership at the federal level," Giles said.
In Biden's plan, the federal government would pay for about 3/4ths of the cost of two years of community college education, and then states would pay for the rest. "Providing, essentially no-cost higher-education at community colleges in Arizona would be huge," said Ron Marx, Dean Emeritus at the University of Arizona College of Education. Marx also applauds other parts of the plan like universal pre-K education.
"But it has to be high quality," Marx said. "And high quality means well-prepared teachers." However, there is a roadmap for that, too. Biden's plan calls for more funding to train educators, aimed at reducing the teacher shortage.
"It would be great for the teaching force of Arizona. But it won't -- providing low-cost teacher education by itself -- won't solve our teacher shortage problem because working conditions have to be better," Marx said.
Then there's the problem of the cost of the plan: around $1.8 trillion. "I'm not a politician. I'm not in political science," Marx said. "I don't know. I think it's going to be difficult to get it through."
But for communities like Mesa, investments in education are ones worth making. "Mesa needs an educated workforce," Mayor Giles said. "So we can continue to see economic progress in the individual lives of people and families in our community."