Partisanship in America is clearly at an all-time high. But whatever political party you identify with, we are all educators. And when it comes to identifying which candidate at the top of the ticket has educators’ and their students’ best interests at heart, it’s critical to take a close look at the candidates’ track records, public statements, and campaign platforms to make a truly informed decision.
Here’s where Joe Biden and Donald Trump stand on education issues:
Biden: Supports increased opportunities for students and educators
According to Biden, “educators deserve a partner in the White House.” His plan for education includes tripling funding for Title I, eliminating funding disparities between schools, ensuring families have access to support services and modernized school buildings, and increasing the federal government’s investment in educators. He believes “educators shouldn’t have to fight so hard for resources and respect.”
Trump: Supports public money for private schools
Trump has stated that “a child’s ZIP code in America should never determine their future,” but his administration supports cutting education programs by $5 billion to fund a federal voucher program for private school scholarships. According to Trump, “people want school choice,” and “as president, I am fighting every day for the forgotten child.”
Biden: Supports raises for educators
Biden has proposed “tripling federal funding for Title I” to help school districts “offer educators competitive salaries.” He believes that educators “are the most important profession.”
Trump: Talk is cheap
Despite “admiring” teachers, Trump’s FY 2021 budget request proposed eliminating funding for programs like the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant, and Teacher and School Leader Incentive programs, which provide funding to recruit, prepare, develop, and compensate educators.
Biden: Supports workers
“To ensure public-sector workers, including public school educators, have a greater voice in the decisions that impact their students and their working conditions,” Biden “would establish minimum collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees” and create a cabinet-level working group to promote unions.
Trump: Opposes unions and the rights of workers
Publicly Trump aligns himself with American workers, but supports “decreased labor protections, rolled back worker safety, and weakened federal unions.” A federal judge has blocked his administration from undermining federal unions through a series of executive orders. In response, the Trump administration has sought to challenge workers’ rights agency by agency. At the Department of Education, rank-and-file employees have accused Secretary Betsy DeVos of gutting a long-standing labor agreement.
Biden: Supports smaller class sizes
Biden recognizes that “many educators across the country are experiencing stagnant wages, slashed benefits, growing class sizes, and fewer resources for their students,” and he supports educators in their “fight for smaller class sizes.” As a U.S. senator, he also introduced legislation to reduce class size, and suggested that small classes should be “one pillar of our education system.”
Trump: Tried to cut funds that would reduce class sizes
For FY 2021, Trump proposed collapsing 29 major education programs into a single block grant, including $2.1 billion in Title II funding. These resources provide funds for high-need districts to hire teachers to reduce large class sizes. According to his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, “different states will spend their share of the block grant differently, and that’s OK.”
Biden: Opposes vouchers
Biden has stated that “when we divert public funds to private schools, we undermine the entire public education system. We’ve got to prioritize investing in our public schools, so every kid in America gets a fair shot. That’s why I oppose vouchers.”
Trump: Vouchers reign, even during a pandemic
The president believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is the opportune moment to urge Congress to support a $5 billion school tax credit that would transfer public funds to private schools. He states that this is the “civil rights issue of our time” and that these tax credits – or private school vouchers – will help rescue “African-Americans ... that get trapped in bad government schools.” Addressing the opposition of unions to vouchers, he observes “they’re not against it for the right reasons. They’re against it for a lot of the wrong reasons. And we’re going to get that straightened out.”