Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 12
What to Watch as Biden Administration
Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
President-elect Joe Biden plans to
pursue an ambitious agenda for K-12
education that will depend on cooperation from Congress and his administration's ability to address the ongoing
effects of the coronavirus pandemic on
students and schools.
The former Democratic vice president has promised a sharp U-turn from
the education philosophy and policies
of incumbent President Donald Trump
in areas including the COVID-19 crisis,
civil rights enforcement in schools, and
aid for underprivileged students.
Biden pledged in his campaign to significantly boost federal education funding and to focus on " neighborhood public schools " rather than charter schools.
And he ran on opposition to the efforts
to use public funds to help children attend private schools that became a
signature for Trump, who remained
defiant about the election results as of
deadline last week.
Where U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos frequently criticized
teachers' unions for blocking the
" reinvention " she supported, Biden
embraced them. He embedded their
priorities-like criticism of " high
stakes testing " and demands for more
resources for schools-into his party's
platform, pledged to appoint an education secretary with " public school experience, " and promised a " teacher-oriented " U.S. department of education.
" What happens to our children is
going to determine exactly what happens to this nation, " Biden said in a
July address to the National Education
Association. " These aren't someone
else's children, they're our children.
They're the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft. "
Biden made history with his choice
of a running mate. California Senator
Kamala Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, will be
the first woman and the first woman
of color to serve as vice president.
She notably challenged Biden on his
record on school desegregation during
the primaries, and she launched her
own presidential bid on a plan to boost
His wife, former high school teacher
and current community college professor Jill Biden, spoke frequently to
education groups and delivered her
convention address from her former
" For America's educators, this is a
great day: You're going to have one of
your own in the White House, and Jill
is going to make a great First Lady, "
Biden said in his Nov. 7 acceptance
speech in Wilmington, Del., referring
to himself as " Jill's husband. "
Biden's priorities were welcomed
with praise from education groups that
have pushed for more school funding,
but they were also met with concern
from some policy groups that said they
fear he will de-emphasize accountabil-
By Evie Blad
ity and school improvement efforts.
" Joe Biden is a person of great
decency, strength, knowledge and
compassion, " said a statement from
Randi Weingarten, the president of
the American Federation of Teachers, which also represents nurses.
" He will deliver on his promise to
make things better for those who
struggle and strive, those who educate our children and care for our patients and our communities. "
Confronting a Crisis
At least in the beginning of his
presidency, Biden's core education
priorities will likely take a backseat to efforts to help public schools
confront the COVID-19 pandemic,
which has put them in the center of
two unprecedented crises: a rapidly
evolving public health situation, and
a decline in the public funding they
need to operate.
The $2 trillion CARES Act, passed in
March, provided $13.5 billion in dedicated relief funding for K-12 education
through a stabilization fund and $3
billion for governors to use at their discretion to assist both K-12 and higher
Even before the ink was dry, education groups said they would likely need
more money to reopen schools and to
address the academic fallout caused by
mass school closures in the spring.
Congressional Democrats and the
Trump White House have tried and
failed to iron out the specifics on an additional relief bill, even as they both
12 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 18, 2020 | www.edweek.org
agreed one is necessary.
Biden has voiced support for the
HEROES Act, a bill that passed the
Democratically controlled House in
the spring but was never considered
by the GOP-controlled Senate. Depending on what happens in the lame
duck period, the contours of any relief
bill Biden signs may be shaped by how
the balance of power shifts in Congress following this week's elections.
Democrats maintained control of the
House of Representatives after the
Nov. 3 election. Control of the Senate
depends on two Georgia runoff elections that will be held in January.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP majority would
try to pass a relief bill before the end of
" Hopefully the partisan passions
that prevented us from doing another
rescue package will subside after the
election, " he said in a news conference
the day after the election.
On the campaign trail, Biden criticized Trump's efforts to tie additional
relief aid to schools' reopening plans,
an idea that was included in several
failed GOP bills.
" The Dems think it would be bad for
them politically if U.S. schools open
before the November Election, but is
important for the children & families, "
Trump tweeted in July. " May cut off
funding if not open! "
Since the start of the school year,
some economists and epidemiologists
have said data collected by nongovernmental groups has demonstrated that
it's possible for schools to open with-
out increasing the spread of the virus
in their communities. Other scientists
have said more information is needed
to draw that conclusion.
Where Trump has largely deferred
to the states on virus containment efforts, Biden has pledged a more centralized response. His plan to reopen
schools calls for " listening to the scientists " and having federal agencies,
like the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, provide " basic, objective criteria to guide state, tribal, and
local officials " in reopening decisions
that are sensitive to the " level of risk
and degree of viral spread in the community. "
School superintendents have faulted
the Trump administration for inconsistent, vague, and sometimes delayed
federal guidance they said left them
more vulnerable to local political pressure in their decisions. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office
had also faulted the Trump administration for a lack of " clear and consistent messaging " needed to help school
leaders navigate the decision-making
" Everyone wants our schools to reopen, " Biden said when he introduced
his plan in July. " The question is how
to make it safe, how to make it stick.
Forcing educators and students back
into the classroom in areas where the
infection rate is going up or remaining
very high is just plain dangerous. "
Less than a week after media organizations declared him the winner and
with Trump continuing to contest results of the election, Biden appointed
Christian Joseph, 9, holds up his hand
as he celebrates the presidential
election results in Atlanta.
a coronavirus advisory group made up
of doctors and epidemiologists. And
he selected a chief of staff, Ron Klain,
a long-time aide who led the Ebola
virus response under President Barack
Education Funding Boost
Long before the pandemic, Biden's
education funding promises dwarfed
even the most significant proposals
by congressional Democrats in recent
Biden's plans would rely heavily on
a cooperative Congress. He's said he
would raise taxes on incomes above
$400,000 and close some tax loopholes to help pay for his domestic policy goals. But big plans in other areas,
like health care, may suck up some
Biden wants to triple Title I, the federal aid for schools that educate high
percentages of students from lowincome families, from around $16
billion to more than $45 billion. By
comparison, the Education Department's discretionary budget is about
Biden would require districts to use
the new Title I funds " to offer educators competitive salaries and make
other critical investments, " like expanding early-childhood programs
and access to advanced coursework,
before spending it elsewhere.
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
As Election 2020 Grinds On, Young Voters Stay Hooked
Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
What the Research Says
Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What the Research Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - ‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 19
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S6
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S8
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S9
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S12
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S14
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S16
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC4