By Amanda Menas
All students deserve a great public education no matter where they live, what language they speak at home, or how much money their parents have. But during times of crisis, education cuts loom that would have an outsized effect on students of color.
But 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden believes it is more important than ever to make investments in public education. In order to support students, he has released an education plan to provide funding and resources that benefit some of our most vulnerable children.
At NEA’s July #StrongPublicSchools forum, Joe Biden answered a question about supporting students in economically deprived areas, saying, “Every one of our students has incredible potential, but most don’t have the opportunity.” In order to provide that opportunity, he will triple Title I funding, which will encourage schools to increase teacher pay, invest in school psychologists, and rebuild school infrastructure.
Additionally, Biden has endorsed local referendums that support students of color, such as that in Milwaukee, Wis. which will fund the expansion of staff and programming to match that available in surrounding districts. “We also need to talk about equity and the real, structural barriers facing too many students – especially in communities of color,” Biden said. “Too often, schools in Milwaukee and Racine receive far less in funding than those in surrounding communities – and that needs to change if we’re going to provide a better future for the next generation.”
Biden plans to invest funding for Advanced Placement courses, after school care, certificate programs, free community college, and tuition-free attendance at public colleges and universities for families with incomes less than $125,000. Here are seven more ways Joe Biden plans to students of color and their families:
He will tackle racial inequity in our education system
Biden plans to address the $23 billion annual funding gap between white and non-white school districts and will reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s actions to diversify our schools. The plan supports schools in legally pursuing desegregation strategies and recognized institutions of higher education’s interests in creating diverse student bodies. Additionally, Biden will provide assistance to appropriately identify students of color with disabilities, while also ensuring that African American students with disabilities have the support to succeed.
He will support Child Care and Remote Student Learning
School closings have created significant cost issues for parents seeking childcare, and for schools and educators seeking to continue teaching remotely. The Biden Plan will expand assistance to federal child care centers and assistance to schools – particularly Title I schools — for schools facing extra costs, including efforts to continue remote education or remote activities normally done after-school.
He will invest in universal pre-K
In outlining his plans for a Biden Administration, the former vice president has committed to providing “high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds.” He believes that “this investment will ease the burden on our families, help close the achievement gap, promote the labor participation of parents who want to work, and lift our critical early childhood education workforce out of poverty.”
He will support teacher diversity
Joe Biden knows that “for Black students, having just one Black teacher in elementary school reduces the probability of dropping out”. He supports investing in the recruitment of teachers of color, and “helping paraprofessionals work towards their teaching certificate, and working with historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions to recruit and prepare teachers,” in addition to other innovative measures.
He will fund schools in low-income communities
“Preparing our students for the workforce increasingly entails not only rigorous academics, but also problem-solving, collaboration, and technical skills,” says Biden. He plans to create a new competitive program to challenge local communities to reinvent high school curriculum to meet these changing demands. First and foremost, the Biden plan wants this funding to target building ”the best schools in the country in low-income communities and communities of color.”
He will work to root out racism
If elected, the former vice president would direct his Justice Department to “prioritize prosecuting hate crimes. Concerning the rise of white supremacists, he has stated that “silence is complicity.” “The only way…you deal with it is you attack it, you expose it, you embarrass…You call them out, and “most of all, you call them out to our children.”
Biden has also promised to reverse the harmful policies pushed by Betsy DeVos which have exacerbated racism and sexism across the country.
He believes Trump tax cuts exacerbate inequality
The former vice president sees “economic inequality…pulling this country apart,” and vows to end special interest tax breaks and multimillionaire loopholes. Features of his tax plan include ending “the preferential treatment of investment income”; instituting “a 15 percent minimum corporate tax, to prevent corporations from using loopholes to reduce their tax bills to nothing”; and raising “the top income tax rate to 39.6 percent, where it was before the Trump tax cuts.”