By Amanda Menas
Students and educators deserve a secretary of Education who has experience and who is actually a champion of public schools. Betsy DeVos, who has spent decades working to dismantle public education and privatize public schools, is dangerously unqualified and lacks the experience we need in America’s secretary of education. Over the last four years, she has been just as harmful to students and schools as educators expected. In November, we have the opportunity to make a change.
“It’s really important that we have [a secretary of education] who has actually been in the classroom,” said former Vice President Joe Biden about selecting a nominee for the department. When asked by NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia on the qualifications of a nominee, Biden said that the most important part is the ability to listen to teachers. “Educators have more impact on what this nation is going to look like…than any group of people other than parents.”
As the NEA-recommended candidate, Biden sees the importance of selecting a pro-public education secretary to replace Betsy DeVos. Here are four ways he will oppose DeVos’ policies as president:
He opposes vouchers and charters
As Betsy DeVos’ number one project, voucher programs have been pushed on students across the country for the last four years. Joe Biden says that will end in his presidency. The former vice president affirms, “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.” He also does not agree with “any federal funding going to for-profit charter schools” and supports increasing accountability for existing charters.
He will get guns out of schools
In opposition to DeVos, who believes that arming educators is a good idea, the former vice president believes that banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is the only way to reduce gun violence, including school shootings. If elected, he pledges that “I will defeat the NRA again…I’ve done it before — twice.” He previously led Congress to pass background checks “and bans on assault weapons.” According to him, “I’m so tired about people talking about your prayers. Damn it, we have to protect these kids. We have to do it now.”
He will erase educators’ loan debt
The former vice president sees no reason for educators “to worry about how they are going to make their student loan payments while they are busy educating the next generation.” Opposing cuts proposed by Betsy DeVos in the FY2021 budget, Biden proposes expanding access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, with special provisions for educators.
He will increase education funding
Where DeVos has proposed annual cuts to the education budget, Biden has commended “educators around the country” for taking action “for the resources they need to serve their students.” The former vice president proposes investing more than $800 billion to triple Title I, fully fund IDEA, and update school infrastructure. He believes “educators shouldn’t have to fight so hard for resources and respect.”