Is Joe Biden Making a 14th Grade? President Said 12 Years of Education No Longer Enough

President Joe Biden has praised America's K-12 education system for fuelling the country's economic growth over the decades, but on Wednesday he said the system was no longer working.

Comparing the U.S. education system against the rest of the world's, the president said in an address in Congress on Wednesday: "The world has caught up, or catching up. They are not waiting. Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century."

The pandemic has had a huge toll on America's youth, with almost half of high school graduates out of work, according to government data. Pew Research Center analysis in April showed that younger adults were more likely to have lost jobs during the pandemic than older ones.

Thirty-one percent of 2020 graduates were unemployed last fall, 9 percent more than the 22 percent for 2019 graduates, according to another Pew analysis of federal labor data. The Center also reported in June that teen summer employment neared record lows in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Workers without college degrees have been most hard-hit because they are more likely than university graduates to be working in jobs that typically can't be done remotely, such as hospitality, child care or retail.

Those without college degrees have also seen their wages eroded down the years. Income for the typical high school graduate dropped by almost 10 percent between the mid-1960s and the mid-2010s, according to Pew Research. College students, meanwhile, have enjoyed increases in income over the past few decades.

Biden's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan hopes to address this widening gap and youth unemployment. A video released on June 1 that has been doing the rounds on social media incorrectly said that Biden intends to extend high school education by four more years.

The video includes a recording from Biden's April 28 address to Congress, when the president says: "I wonder whether we'd think, as we did in the 20th century, that 12 years is enough in the 21st century. I doubt it. Twelve years is no longer enough today to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century. That's why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – starting as early as we can."

However, the video takes his comments out of context. The American Families Plan would grant $200 billion for two years of free pre-kindergarten schooling for three- and four-year-olds and $109 billion for free community college for two years for all Americans.

The investment in pre-kindergarten learning will help parents, especially mothers, return to work after many had to give up their jobs due to remote schooling demands during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to a White House fact sheet, the plan will "invest in making college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and institutions such as Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs)."

The plan also will invest in teachers as well as students by improving training and support, the White House added.

Biden plans to pay for his plan by taxing high-income Americans, increasing the top individual tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 39.6 percent for taxpayers making over $1 million.

Newsweek has contacted the Department of Education for comment on the plans.

US President Biden arrives at G7
U.S. President Joe Biden addresses US Air Force personnel at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, on June 9, 2021 in Mildenhall, England. Biden plans to offer another four years worth of free education as part of a $1.8 trillion new spending plan. WPA Pool/Getty