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Action Alert: The American Families Plan

Earlier this month, President Biden outlined his American Families Plan, which would offer two free years of college to every American. The American Families plan offers a truly rare and transformative opportunity for us to make higher education better for students and faculty—but the outline so far doesn’t do quite enough to meet the needs of the moment. Now’s a chance to call your Senator and get them board with real faculty job security as part of the American Families Plan, and with funding directed to all public institutions.

You can call and tell them how a stronger free college plan would change life for you and the students you teach. The main switchboard number is 202-224-3121 and you can ask to be connected to your senator. The more personal details you share, the more it will resonate. Together, our collective voice can shape what free college will look like. Here’s a sample and some notes to get you started:

“Hi this is _____ (name). I’m calling from ____ (your town and state), and wanted to make a request for the Senator and for others in Democratic leadership. I’m calling with my AAUP chapter at ____ (institution) to urge the Senator to fight for better faculty job security as part of the American Families Plan.

Tell your personal story next, tying it into what you want to see in the American Families Plan. Here are some of the key changes we’re asking for.

  • The proposal currently pays for two years of community college. We would prefer it cover the first two years at any institution, or ideally all four years of a bachelor’s degree.
  • The proposal does not have enough detail on how it will support faculty and guarantee high-quality instruction. While we’d like to see an increase in the share of tenure-track faculty, all positions on college campuses should provide a guarantee of good pay, continuity of employment, and pay parity between full and part time roles.
  • Finally, the American Families Plan doesn’t have any details on how to ensure faculty and staff have a voice in campus decision-making. We’d like to see a commitment to shared governance, and guardrails to prevent the harsh campus austerity plans we saw during COVID.

As Congress considers how to rebuild our economy post-pandemic, we need serious reinvestment in all of our colleges on the scale of the New Deal, and real job security for the people who make it run. Thank you.”

You can also Tweet at your senator (here’s a list of Twitter handles). Here’s a few sample tweets as well:

  • .@AAUP proudly endorsed @SenSanders/@RepJayapal’s #CollegeforAll Act as a first, bold step in our fight for a #NewDeal4HigherEd – esp in its call for 75% of faculty to be tenure-track. @xxSenator, can you sign on?
  • .@POTUS’ #FreeCollege plan is a good start, but needs to serve all students, not just those at comm colleges. @xxxSenator, can you make sure that the AFP is truly #CollegeForAll? #NewDeal4HigherEd
  • .@POTUS’ AFP is the kind of investment we need to recover from COVID, but it can’t leave behind the people that make colleges run. @xxxSenator, faculty need fair pay and job security! #NewDeal4HigherEd