Expert discusses Biden’s sweeping infrastructure package

The Biden administration is making a pitch this week for new legislation that could provide a combined $3 trillion for infrastructure such as roads, rail lines, electric vehicle charging stations and grid upgrades, while investing in universal pre-kindergarten, paid family leave and free community college.

Noliwe Rooks is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor in Africana studies and director of the American Studies Program in A&S, and an expert on the role of segregation in American society, particularly in education and the economy.

Rooks says: “For all the economic good the infrastructure bill will do, we need to be careful about conflating the spending in this bill, and in the previous one as it relates to schools in particular, with thinking that infrastructure is a key element of educational equity. It’s not. Stimulating the economy and building new schools does not address the urgent issues of the under education of poor children and those that are Black, indigenous and Latinx within a pedagogical and curricular system that harms as much as do dilapidated buildings.

“I can think of any number of stimulus funding bills that resulted in new schools in which the students still struggled educationally. Let’s really Build Back Better by committing to equity in our whole educational system, not just in the building of better buildings.”

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