Biden vs. Trump

Before you vote, see where the candidates stand on the biggest issues impacting public education and our students.

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Biden (D)

On the Issues

  • 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20)

  • Has a plan for COVID. To combat the pandemic, Biden has proposed a comprehensive plan that would provide “free public testing and rapid deployment of supplies, as well as economic measures such as emergency paid leave and the creation of a state and local emergency fund.” Additionally, his plan would provide resources for food relief and remote student learning. He sides with “science, not fiction and fear,” and predicted in January 2020 “the outbreak of a new coronavirus… [that would] get worse before it gets better.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; USA Today, 1/27/20)

  • Understands that schools need resources now more than ever. “Americans deserve a president who will ensure that reopening is as effective and safe as possible.” In his “Plan for an Effective Reopening that Jumpstarts the Economy,” Biden assures that his administration “would mobilize the federal government, in cooperation with educators, childcare providers, unions, communities, and families.” To safely reopen schools, he recommends that federal resources are made available, especially for Title I schools, that “support personal protective equipment and enhanced sanitation efforts; alterations to classrooms, schedules, class sizes, and transportation so students can physically distance; upgraded technology and broadband for new forms of instruction; support for social-emotional learning; and training for educators, parents, and students as they adapt to new circumstances.” According to Biden, providing schools adequate financial relief is critical for the economy, and warns that the country “would be in ‘deeper trouble’ if the United States does not spend more.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Biden for President, accessed 8/11/20; The New York Times, 7/17/20)

  • 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.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Politico, 10/25/19)

  • Proposes systemic investments to ensure racial equity. Biden acknowledges that the country is “seeing a national reckoning on racial justice and the tragic human costs of systemic racism.” In his plan to “Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equity,” he outlines more than a dozen proposals to expand Black, Brown, and Native families’ access to affordable housing, higher education, fair compensation, and clean energy.” According to Biden, “this election is not just about voting against Donald Trump….It’s about rising to this moment of crisis, understanding people’s struggles and building a future worthy of their courage and their ambition to overcome.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; The New York Times, 7/28/20)

  • Respects immigrants and supports pathways to citizenship. If elected, Biden has vowed to send legislation to Congress on his first day to provide a “roadmap for citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants who contribute so much to this country.” He also would immediately strengthen protections for Dreamers, prioritize reuniting separated families, and reverse travel bans “designed to target primarily black and brown immigrants.” According to Biden, “the challenges we face will not be solved…by…[building] a wall, separating families…[and] denying asylum to people fleeing persecution and violence.” Instead, he supports “bringing our nation together.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Reuters, 7/20/20; NBC News, 6/27/20)

  • 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Twitter, 9/23/19; Vote Smart, 10/1/07)

  • Sees universal pre-K as an investment. In outlining plans for his administration, Biden has committed to providing “high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20)

  • Supports a national postsecondary reinvestment. According to Biden, the country needs “a bold plan for education and training beyond high school.” He proposes investing $750 billion to ensure free community college and increased resources for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs). Biden also supports free tuition at public colleges and universities for families earning less than $125,000; doubling the maximum Pell grant award; and forgiving debt from students scammed by for-profit colleges.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20)

  • Sees higher education as a public good and wants to make sure all students who are interested in a post-secondary education can afford it. As president, Biden would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. Additionally, he will double the maximum value of Pell grants and increase access to the program; simplify income-based repayment plans; and ensure educators and other public-service workers have access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Biden also will stop predatory for-profit colleges from profiteering off students and hold private lenders accountable.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 9/14/20)

  • Says equal pay is long overdue. Biden laments, “it’s past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men.” In the Obama Administration, he was involved with passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and advocated for the Paycheck Fairness Act to help women who have faced wage discrimination. “Due to both their gender and the color of their skin,” he recognizes the injustice of pay disparities for women of color. He believes that “we must right these wrongs and close the gender pay gap once and for all.”

    Source: (Medium, 7/27/20; Twitter, 9/23/19; The Hill, 6/29/19; CNN, 7/20/10)

  • Believes everyone should have access to healthcare. If elected, Biden will protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and resist efforts to “start from scratch and get rid of private insurance.” His plan for expanding even more access to healthcare would build on the ACA by offering a public option, premium tax credits for working families, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. He explains that “every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality health care.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20)

  • Vehemently opposes privatization. With Social Security funds on the decline, Biden plans to “protect Social Security for the millions of Americans who depend on the program…[and] strengthen benefits for the most vulnerable older Americans.” If elected, he would support older Americans by providing “the oldest beneficiaries… with a higher monthly check to help protect retirees from the pain of dwindling retirement savings.” Biden also supports “letting public sector workers, including teachers who are not eligible for Social Security, to begin receiving pension benefits sooner than the 10 years that many of their plans currently require.” To further expand benefits, he also would ensure payments kept recipients above the poverty line, and he would increase assistance for widows and widowers.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Market Watch, 6/13/20)

  • Believes Trump tax cuts exacerbate inequality. According to Biden, “across the country, too many families are being left behind.” He has criticized corporate America as “greedy as hell,” and if elected, he would “raise the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent, ….restore the top individual tax rate from 37 to 39.6 percent, tax capital gains as ordinary income and at death for very high earners, limit various tax breaks for higher earners, [and] subject wages above $400,000 to the Social Security payroll tax.” According to Biden, “I don’t think any company, I don’t give a damn how big they are, the Lord almighty, should absolutely be in a position where they pay no tax and make billions and billions and billions of dollars.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 7/30/20; The Washington Post, 5/22/20; Politico, 4/25/20)

  • Opposes federal funding of charter schools. As a supporter of public schools, Biden does not agree with “any federal funding going to for-profit charter schools.” In addition to banning for-profits, he also supports increasing overall accountability of charter schools.

    Source: (Ed Week, 7/8/20; The Washington Post, 4/8/20)

  • 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; The Washington Post, 7/5/20)

  • 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.”

    Source: (Twitter, 1/22/20)

  • Is committed to reducing gun violence. According to Biden, “I’m so tired about people talking about your prayers. Damn it, we have to protect these kids. We have to do it now.” If elected, he would “hold gun manufacturers accountable…get weapons of war off our streets…close the hate crime and Charleston loopholes…[and] prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to discharge firearms.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; Los Angeles Times, 11/14/19)

  • Says schools need a president who understands them. If elected, Biden has pledged “to appoint a teacher as education secretary.” To support students and ensure their success, he also proposes doubling the number of health professionals in schools, supporting more community schools, and providing infrastructure resources “to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20; The Washington Post, 7/5/20)

  • Would erase educators’ loan debt. Biden 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.” He proposes expanding access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, with special provisions for educators.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 8/5/20)

  • Supports increased funding for higher education at all levels. According to Biden, “Educators deserve a partner in the White House.” He recognizes that educators must play a key role in decisions affecting teaching and learning. If elected, he would create seamless pathways between high school, job training, community college, and four-year programs. He also would provide a new grant program to assist community colleges, ensure the availability of wrap-around services for students who also work and have families, and invest in college facilities and technology. Biden has called for establishing a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students — a “Title I for postsecondary education.” He also recognizes and supports colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and all Minority-Serving Institutions. As president, he would ensure a federal-state partnership where states both invest in community colleges and have flexibility to also invest in college readiness or affordability at four-year institutions, implementing all proposals in partnership with states as well as higher ed faculty and staff.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 9/14/20; Los Angeles Times, 8/18/20)

  • Acknowledges the vital role played by Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other MSIs. As president, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by MSIs, including HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities, so that the U.S. can benefit from their unique strengths. His plan invests $18 billion to make these institutions more affordable to students; $20 billion for much-needed infrastructure and facilities improvements; and $10 billion to create at least 200 new “centers of excellence” that will serve as research incubators. The goal is to increase student enrollment, retention, completion, and post-graduation employment rates. Biden also will make permanent $750 million per year in Title III and Title V funding, providing a dedicated revenue stream of $7.5 billion over the first 10 years. To advance racial equity throughout our economy, Biden would forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from public two- and four-year colleges and universities, as well as private HBCUs and MSIs, for debt holders earning less than $125,000.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 9/14/20; Essence, 7/30/20)

  • Offers a comprehensive response to campus sexual assault. In his “Plan to End Violence against Women,” Biden calls for increased preventive education, expanded reporting rights for survivors, and a return to the Title IX guidelines of the Obama-Biden years. According to him, “a Biden Administration will help educate and empower young people with the knowledge and tools they need to prevent sexual violence and dating violence,” including a focus on online harassment.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 9/17/20; Los Angeles Times, 8/18/20)

Trump (R)

On the Issues

  • 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.”

    Source: (Ed Week, 6/23/20; Center for American Progress, 2/11/20; Ed Week, 12/9/19)

  • Believes COVID will just go away. Rejecting science and the realities of the pandemic, Trump and his administration failed to prepare the country for the virus. Instead, he has complained that “Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” and ordered Senate Republicans “to toughen up or they’ll lose in November.” With more than 51 million Americans out of work, including almost 1 million educators, and almost 200,000 virus-related deaths, he believes that COVID will “go away. Things go away. No question in my mind that it will go away.”

    Source: (CNBC, 8/5/20; NBC News, 5/19/20; Vox, 4/2/20; NBC News, 2/28/20)

  • Open or else. Trump doesn’t “consider our country coming back if the schools are closed.” Ignoring his own White House guidelines and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that suggest schools remain closed until states can show “declines in flu-like illnesses and documented COVID-19 cases,” he has demanded that schools reopen to in-person classes or he “may cut off funding” and give parents vouchers. Despite surges in COVID cases, Trump claims that kids are “stoppers” of the virus, while his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, lectures families that “adults who are fear mongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it.”

    Source: (The White House, accessed 8/11/20; The New York Times, 7/8/20; Politico, accessed 8/6/20; ABC News, 7/24/20; Forbes, 7/9/20; Politico, accessed, 5/15/20)

  • 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.” In celebrating the Janus decision, he tweeted “non-union workers are…able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them.” 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, as she refers to unions as “defenders of the status quo.”

    Source: (The Washington Post, 7/9/19; Newsweek, 9/2/18; On Labor, 6/27/18; The Washington Post, 3/28/18)

  • I am not a racist. The Trump administration has dismantled the civil rights offices at the Departments of Education and Justice; it supports making it harder to register housing discrimination complaints; it rolled back guidance on racial disparities in school suspensions; it eliminated protections for transgender students; instituted a travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries; and supports monuments of Confederate generals. With an equally lengthy record of racially offensive language, Trump claims that “he is the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,” but describes efforts to ensure racial and social justice as a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children…under the banner of social justice.”

    Source: (Roll Call, 7/22/20; The Washington Post, 7/5/20; NPR, 7/2/20; USA Today, 7/30/19; The Washington Post, 1/2/19, The Washington Post, 12/21/18)

  • Supports a shorter table and a big wall. To ensure the “safety and prosperity of all Americans,” Trump supports immigration policies that “restore the rule of law and secure our border.” He remains unabashedly “committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants…ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system.” True to his word, his administration has detained children in cages and separated families; opposes Dreamers; expanded the use of detention, limited access to asylum, enhanced enforcement along the US-Mexico border; called for a crackdown on sanctuary cities; and increased budgets for local-federal immigration enforcement cooperation.

    Source: (The White House, accessed 8/6/20; Forbes, 7/30/20; NPR, 6/20/20; The New York Times, 7/1/18)

  • Tried to cut funds that would reduce class size. 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 okay.”

    Source: (Ed Week, 2/10/20)

  • Kicks the can down the road on preschool programs. Trump doesn’t support universal access to preschool, and marginally funds the Preschool Development Grants program, Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Instead, he has proposed “an independent working group [that] would make recommendations to Congress for more efficient use of the nearly $40 billion in childcare and early education funding that American taxpayers provide each year.”

    Source: (The New York Times, 3/15/20; CNBC, 2/1/20; The White House, 12/12/19)

  • He prefers to make for-profit colleges great again. In keeping his promise to reverse Obama-era policies, Trump directed the Department of Education to dismantle regulations designed to crack down on for-profit colleges with a track record of misleading and predatory practices. To further distinguish his administration, he also has supported more than $2 billion in cuts to student financial aid programs, including freezing the maximum Pell grant award, eliminating Stafford Loans, and reducing support for college access programs like TRIO and GEAR UP that serve first-generation students and students of color.

    Source: (Center for American Progress, 2/10/20; CNN, 6/28/19)

  • Tried to cut more than $2 billion in FY2021 in federal student financial support. Trump’s budget plan includes freezing the maximum Pell grant for the next decade, cutting $630 million from the federal work-study program, and eliminating programs like subsidized Stafford Loans, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs. He also supports consolidating GEAR UP and TRIO grant programs that benefit students from under resourced communities. In addition, Trump’s budget called for opening Pell grants to students in nontraditional, short-term programs and to certain students who are incarcerated with no additional funding.

    Source: (Inside Higher Ed, 2/11/20; Education Dive, 2/10/20)

  • Halted EEOC efforts to collect pay data by race and gender from large companies. A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reinstate an Obama-era rule that required companies to report data by race and gender to help close the wage gap. According to Trump, pay disparities between men and women are difficult to address because “it’s very hard to say what is the same job.” He also has stated that, “[if] you start to say everybody gets equal pay, you get away from the whole American Dream… and if everyone gets the same…you’re into a socialistic society.”

    Source: (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., accessed 8/6/20; Time, 4/2/19; The Washington Post, 3/5/19)

  • Promises, promises. His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major public health crisis, but Trump has stated that “we’re signing a health-care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health-care plan.” Although he did not meet his deadline and has not released a new plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), his first term accomplishments include cutting funding to programs that help underserved communities access healthcare services; eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate and stopping subsidies to insurers that motivated them to stay in the ACA exchange; allowing states to add work requirements to Medicaid eligibility; and claiming that he saved coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, as he instructs the Justice Department to file suit against it.

    Source: (The Washington Post, 8/1/20; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 6/17/20)

  • Sorry, not sorry. Trump claims that making changes to entitlement spending is “the easiest of all things.” Before he was elected, he promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. However, if elected to a second term, Trump has signaled that he is open to cuts to Medicare, and he would propose deeper cuts to Medicaid and Social Security disability programs. According to him, “at the right time, we will take a look at that.”

    Source: (The Washington Post, 1/22/20; The New York Times, 1/22/20)

  • Believes now is the time to cut taxes. As more than 51 million Americans face unemployment, including almost 1 million educators, Trump believes that a pandemic is the right time for a payroll tax cut. He suggests that “it’s a tremendous saving, and I think it’s an incentive for companies to hire their workers back and to keep their workers.” After pushing through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that benefited corporations and the wealthy, even U.S. Chamber of Commerce representatives observe that a payroll tax cut “is not an issue that we heard from businesses or state and local chambers as a priority that would help during this time.”

    Source: (The New York Times, 7/23/20; NPR, 12/20/19; NPR, 12/20/17)

  • School choice is a priority. Trump has stated that his administration is “fighting for school choice, which really is the civil rights of all time in this country.” According to him, his “proposed budgets have made school choice a priority…by including $1 billion in funding to Furthering Options of Children to Unlock Success Grants for public school choice and $250 million to promote private school choice through the Education Innovation and Research Program.”

    Source: (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., accessed 8/5/20; Fox News, 6/16/20)

  • 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.

    Source: (Center for American Progress, 2/11/20; Politico, 4/29/19)

  • 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.”

    Source: (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., accessed 8/5/20; The Washington Post, 6/12/20)

  • He banned bump stocks. The Trump administration issued an official rule banning bump stocks but has taken no action on background checks or assault weapons. Trump signed into law the STOP School Violence Act and has requested additional funding for school safety measures. However, to reduce gun violence in schools, Trump also has floated an NRA-endorsed proposal to pay teachers bonuses for carrying weapons.

    Source: (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., accessed 8/5/20; ABC News, 8/5/19; NPR, 2/26/18)

  • He doesn’t have a plan. Although he claims that he is “committed to preparing America’s workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Trump supports cuts to 21st Century Community Learning Centers every year and walked away from a short-lived $2 trillion infrastructure agreement with Democrats that would have expanded broadband systems. Although he tweeted that the deal was “badly needed,” he left negotiations after Republicans resisted the cost of the plan.

    Source: (Afterschool Alliance, 2/10/20; The Washington Post, 5/4/19; The White House, 7/31/18)

  • Opposes public service loan forgiveness. In each of his budget requests since he took office, Trump has called for eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

    Source: (CNBC, 2/10/20)

  • Supports some funding increases, but annually calls for sizable reductions in federal research spending. In his FY 2021 budget, Trump’s calls for a nearly $900 million increase in career and technical education funding and adds $830 million to National Science Foundation funding for artificial intelligence-related grants and interdisciplinary research institutes. However, for the fourth straight year, Trump also recommended making deep cuts (from 6.5 to 23.6 percent) to the budgets of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and to science programs at the Department of Energy and NASA. He also would eliminate a variety of biological and environmental research programs, including the U.S. Geological Survey’s primary cooperative research program with universities that helps fund graduate students.

    Source: (Inside Higher Ed, 2/11/20; Science, 2/11/20)

  • Has a mixed record on support for HBCUs and other MSIs. Trump signed the FUTURE Act in December 2019, bipartisan legislation that made permanent $255 million in annual STEM funding for minority-serving colleges, including roughly $85 million specifically allocated to HBCUs. Additionally, the Strengthening Historically Black Colleges program, part of Title III, increased from $245 million in federal support in 2017 to $325 million this fiscal year. However, Trump’s proposal to restructure and slash TRIO programs by 40 percent would disproportionately affect HBCU students, and he has also sought to eliminate that same Strengthening Historically Black Colleges program. During his administration, HBCUs have seen declines in federal science and engineering support.

    Source: (Inside Higher Ed, 1/23/20)

  • Reversed Obama-Biden Administration Title IX guidelines and announced changes that will weaken efforts to reduce campus assaults. In May, Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced changes that more narrowly defined sexual misconduct and gave students accused of such conduct stronger due process protections.

    Source: (Los Angeles Times, 8/18/20; CNN, 5/6/20)

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