President-Elect Joe Biden’s Education Plan

President-Elect Joe Biden’s Education Plan

By Bellevue’s Julie Platt

During the Presidential transition, Bellevue Strategies will be spotlighting President-elect Joe Biden’s different policy platforms that will impact our clients. Although many of these plans may not become law, they give us an understanding of how the President-elect will govern.
This week we will be focusing on President-elect Biden’s education plans.

If you have any suggestions for what you like us to cover, please email Julie Platt.

The funding of public elementary and secondary schools is a combination of local, state, and federal government revenues, in proportions that vary substantially both across and within states. However, according to the most recent data, state governments provide 47.0% of these revenues, local governments provide 44.8%, and the federal government provides 8.3%. 
President-elect Biden can influence educational policy through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act funding as well as regulations. President Biden’s plan focuses on improving schools for at-risk youth while also supporting teacher professional development . Biden has pledged to reopen schools in his 100 days in office by controlling the spread of the virus and working with local governments on a clear set of criteria for schools to reopen safely.

I. Supporting Educators and Social Services: 
President-Biden has pledged to support educators through specific training and increasing salaries. Biden plans to triple funding for Title I and require districts to use these funds to offer educators higher salaries. Additionally, Biden will use these Title I funds to invest in teacher mentoring and additional education. Biden will fix the existing issues of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness that have disproportionately impacted educators. 

Even before the pandemic, mental health access was uneven in schools and communities in the United States. Biden has pledged to double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools so youth can get the mental health care they need.

Expanding community schools will also be a focus of his administration. Community Schools offer wraparound services for children and families in the school building. He plans to expand the community school model for an additional 300,000 students and their families. 

Additional priorities include: 

  • Biden will support early childhood development by providing funds to ensure that there is an early childhood development expert in every community health center. 
  • Home visiting programs for young families will receive increased funding.  

II. InfrastructureBiden has pledged to fund infrastructure improvements in schools where children’s health is at risk. Additional funds will be used to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future.

III. School Funding President Biden’s administration will use Title I funding to try and close the estimated $23 billion annual funding cap between white and non-white schools and high-and low-income school districts. The priority will be to ensure that teachers are paid competitively, three-and four-year-olds have access to pre-school, and districts provide access to rigorous coursework across all their schools. Once these conditions are met, schools will then be able to use these funds to meet local priorities.

Additional funding priorities include: 

  • A new competitive grant program challenging local communities to reinvent high schools to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce. 
  • The Biden administration will reinstate the Departments of Education’s guidance that supports schools legally pursuing desegregation strategies. Grants will be provided to school districts to create plans and implement strategies to diversify their schools. 
  • Currently, the federal government only provides 14% of the cost to educate children with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, signed into law in 1990, promised to provide 40% of the extra cost of special education. Biden has pledged to reach this funding level within ten years. 
  • Biden will invest in and allow Pell grants to be used for dual enrollment programs, so students can take classes at community colleges while still in high school.  

IV. Reopening Schools 
Biden has pledged to reopen schools in the first 100 days of his administration. His plan, Roadmap for Reopening Schools Safety, establishes controlling the spread of the virus—through testing, contact tracing, and the availability of personal protective equipment— an essential criterion for schools to reopen.

The Biden plan will have the CDC and other federal agencies establish objective criteria to guide local officials in school reopening. Biden endorses the criteria set by the Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, that schools in areas with a high level of COVID-19 community spread should not be completed to reopen. 
Biden supports the House of Representatives HERO’S Act that would provide $58 billion for local school districts to ensure that there are not any job losses from the loss of state revenue.

The plan also calls for challenge grants to states and tribal governments to develop evidence-based approaches to promote equity and increased support for mental health services. 

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