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What’s Next for Education? A Dive into President Biden’s Education Plan

What’s Next for Education? A Dive into President Biden’s Education Plan

Every new presidential administration brings change, and those changes include education policy that impact schools and districts. These changes can affect how schools are funded and how much of a budget schools have for spending, as well as influence curricula, technology, and educational practices in our school systems. No one truly knows what the future will bring, but there are some very clear indicators that we can look to for understanding what the new Biden administration will bring in terms of education policy.

The President Biden Education Plan

The Biden administration is inheriting a unique set of challenges when it comes to American schooling, largely due to the substantial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on school closures, the rapid demand for remote-teaching resources and student and educator safety concerns, on top of the previous administration’s rollback approach to federal involvement in public education. President Joe Biden’s plan has five main pillars that aim to reinforce education at its roots with increased federal spending. Biden’s key education policy themes are:

  1. Elevating the profession of teaching
  2. Holistically investing in schools
  3. Closing the achievement gap
  4. Providing career pathways
  5. Beginning investing at birth
Elevating the Profession of Teaching

In his campaign speeches, Biden almost always began his proposals for education by making the point that we need to elevate the profession of teaching. President Biden often states that educators will have two advocates for their profession in the White House, himself and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, a lifelong educator and professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. In press interviews during their campaign Dr. Biden was quoted saying, “If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach. It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up the profession." Together, they propose elevating the teaching profession by:

  • Increasing wages of teachers, administrators, and school staff

  • Substantially increasing Title I funding so that schools have additional funds to raise teacher salaries to competitive levels

  • Increasing investment in teacher mentoring, leadership, and additional education, in order to both encourage the highest-performing teachers to remain in the classroom, and better support teachers aiming to acquire additional certifications in high-need areas like special education and bilingual education

  • Reevaluating and “fixing” the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to help alleviate and forgive educator student loans
Holistically Investing in Schools

President Biden has proposed investing in resources for schools to provide more robust care and support for students physically and emotionally. By increasing spending on student and school staff safety and health, Biden’s administration suggests that teachers and students can focus better on academics and learning. Biden’s proposals for holistically investing in schools includes:

  • Doubling the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools so that students have access to the mental health care they need

  • Establishing wraparound support by building “community schools” that work with students, families, teachers, and community organizations to identify need and provide access to healthcare, nutrition, and other social services to support families so that teachers can focus on education

  • Providing schools with infrastructure funding to make schools safe and healthy environments for teaching and learning (in a 2017 infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave schools a D+ for the quality of school facilities)
Closing the Achievement Gap

President Biden has a long record of fighting for civil rights and equity for all, so it’s no surprise that one of his signature education policy themes is closing the achievement gap to ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, family income, race, or disability. Some notable elements of this equity policy include:

  • Investing in schools to eliminate the funding gap between white and nonwhite districts and rich and poor districts

  • Tripling Title I funding to ensure that Title I schools pay teachers competitive salaries and attract high-quality teachers and that those schools have access to rigorous curricula

  • Improving teacher diversity because research shows that students of color who have at least one teacher of color in elementary school have a statistically significant less chance of dropping out of school

  • Creating a competitive program to build the best, most innovative schools, in low-income communities and communities of color

  • Supporting children with disabilities by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
Providing Career Pathways

President Biden proposes providing every middle and high school student a path to a successful career. Research shows that students who participate in career and technical education (CTE) programs have a higher rate of employment and higher earnings. Biden’s proposal includes:

  • Investing in CTE and vocational training

  • Funding school training and partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and employers that will create programs that offer industry credentials to students upon graduation that ready them for a high-paying career

  • Allowing Pell grants to be used for dual-enrollment programs so that high school students can take classes at a community college and earn college credits or a credential prior to graduating from high school

Beginning Investing at Birth

The last main pillar of Biden’s proposed presidential education plan involves investing at in education beginning at birth. This means supporting early childhood holistic support and investment. This pillar includes:

  • Working with states to provide high-quality, universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-old children

  • Ensuring that there is an early childhood development expert in every community health center

  • Double funding for home visiting programs to ensure that families in need benefit from these programs

President Biden’s education plan is ambitious, and it will need funding, as well as support in Congress and the Department of Education, to move forward. Take a look at our on-demand webinar, where we will further go into detail on these pillars of Biden’s education plan, talk about movers and shakers in Washington who will help Biden meet his goals, and break down the three federal stimulus packages proposed to view how they will impact education in the coming year.

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Dave Adams

Dave Adams is Chief Academic Officer at Edmentum.  Dave started with Edmentum in 1994 as part of PLATO Learning’s acquisition of Lightspan.  Throughout his tenure Dave has led content development including development of Edmentum’s online courses solution; development of the assessment products; and the ongoing innovation of online curriculum.  Establishing an evaluation and efficacy program to measure the effectiveness of educational solutions, Edmentum can now measure the impact on student learning. Dave has also led Professional Services, Training and Implementation solutions and most recently runs Edmentum’s virtual school, EdOptions Academy.