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The race to the White House is heating up! Here are some of the early candidates and how they stack up in terms of public education.

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Joe Biden (D)
Pres. Donald Trump (R)
Joe Biden (D)

About Joe

  • Joe Biden served as Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
  • Prior to his election to the Vice Presidency, Biden served as Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009.

On the Issues

  • It’s personal. According to the former vice president, “educators deserve a partner in the White House.” His plan for education includes 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. As a child with a stutter, he recalls, “I had teachers who first and foremost worked on my confidence, told me I was smart, told me I could do what I needed to do, sat with me and gave me the confidence to stand up and try to speak.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/21/2020; NBC News, 12/14/19)

  • The government needs to do its part. Commending “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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/21/2020; Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, 1/14/2020)

  • He’s with 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,” the former vice president “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 1/21/2020; Politico, 10/25/19)

  • Supports rooting 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/21/2020; USA Today, 8/27/19)

  • Knows that smaller classes work. Recognizing the impact of small classes “particularly in the early grades,” the former vice president 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: (Twitter, 9/23/19; Vote Smart, 10/1/07)

  • Universal pre-K is an investment. In outlining his plans for a Biden Administration, the former vice president 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 1/22/20)

  • Supports a postsecondary reinvestment. According to the former vice president, the country needs “a bold plan for education and training beyond high school.” He proposes investing $750 billion to ensure free community college, additional resources for historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges, in addition to support for “facility and technology upgrades.”

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/22/20; The Washington Post, 10/8/19)

  • It’s been time. The former vice president laments, “it’s past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men.” While serving in the Obama administration, he was involved with passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and advocated for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is legislation designed 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 among women of color. He believes, “We must right these wrongs and close the gender pay gap once and for all.”

    Source: (The Hill, 6/16/19; Twitter, 9/23/19; CNN, 7/20/10)

  • Obamacare is a good start. The former vice president does not support healthcare plans that “start from scratch and get rid of private insurance.” His plan for expanding even more access to healthcare would include providing 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 1/23/20)

  • Vehemently opposes privatization. With Social Security funds starting to decline in 2020, the former vice president supports “raising the payroll tax earnings cap” and taxing the wealthy to help the program. He has said “I don’t know a whole lot of people in the top one-tenth of 1% or top 1% [who] are relying on Social Security when they retire.” He 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.” In expanding benefits, he would ensure payments kept recipients above the poverty line, and he also would increase assistance for widows and widowers.

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/23/20; CNBC, 7/29/19; The Motley Fool, 5/31/19)

  • 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.”

    Source: (Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 1/23/20; The Washington Post, 12/5/19)

  • Opposes federal funding of charter schools. The former vice president supports public schools and does not agree with “any federal funding going to for-profit charter schools.” For existing charters, he believes that potential students should not be subjected to admissions tests. When approached about his position on charter schools, he reiterated his support for banning for-profits and increasing accountability.

    Source: (The Washington Post, accessed 1/23/20; Chalkbeat, accessed 1/23/20)

  • Supports raises for educators. The former vice president proposes “tripling federal funding for Title I” to help school districts “offer educators competitive salaries.” He believes that “we have to reward teachers. They are the single most important ingredient we have … because the teachers hold the kite strings of the children who will send our national ambitions aloft.”

    Source: (Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 1/23/20; Education Next, 11/13/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. 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.”

    Source: (Twitter, 1/22/20)

  • Knows how to beat the NRA. The former vice president believes that to reduce gun violence, the federal government should close gun show loopholes and “ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” If elected president, 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.”

    Source: (Bustle, accessed 9/3/19; Los Angeles Times, 11/14/19)

  • Schools need a leader who understands them. If elected president, he has pledged “to appoint a teacher as education secretary.” To support students and ensure their success, the former vice president 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: (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 1/23/20)

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

    Source: (Biden for President, accessed 1/23/20)

Pres. Donald Trump (R)
President, USA

About Donald

  • Donald Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States, his first political office.
  • He assumed office on January 20, 2017 and filed to run for re-election the same day.

On the Issues

  • Supports public money for private schools. His administration has proposed a federal voucher program of about $5 billion annually for the next ten years in tax credits that would fund scholarships to private schools. According to the president, “people want school choice,” and “as president, I am fighting every day for the forgotten American.”

    Source: (Education Week, 12/9/19)

  • Tries to cut education every year. The Trump Administration proposed another budget in FY 2020 that cuts education funding—this time by 10 percent, or more than $7 billion, while seeking more funding for its school choice agenda. Other school choice proposals can be found in other federal agency budgets, such as the federal voucher program for District of Columbia schools. The budget plan would eliminate 29 education grant programs, including the federal afterschool program ($1.2 billion), the new Title IV, Part A program authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act ($1.2 billion), educator professional development, mentoring, and recruitment and retention ($2.1 billion), full-service community schools ($17.5 million), and a student aid program for needy students ($840 million).

    Source: (The 74, 3/11/19)

  • Opposes unions and the rights of workers. Publicly the president 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 the Trump administration from undermining federal unions through three executive orders. In response, the administration has sought to challenge workers’ rights agency by agency. Rank-and-file Education Department employees have accused Secretary DeVos of gutting a long-standing labor agreement and enforcing a new pact that has been rejected by their union. DeVos has expressed her hostility toward teacher unions, calling them “defenders of the status quo” and apologists for a public education system she views as broken.

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

  • Rescinded guidance aimed at reducing racial disparities in school discipline. The Trump administration rescinded guidance addressing racial disparities in how students are suspended, expelled, or otherwise punished. The guidance that was rescinded was not binding. It notified schools that they could be violating federal civil rights law if students of color were disciplined at higher rates than white students. In addition, the Trump administration is considering a rollback of civil rights law that would dilute federal rules against discrimination in education and housing.

    Source: (Donald J. Trump campaign website, accessed 1/23/20; The Washington Post, 1/3/19; The Washington Post, 12/21/18)

  • Tried to cut funds that would reduce class size. The president directed his administration to propose eliminating $2.1 billion in Title II funding, which provide resources for high-need districts to hire teachers to reduce large class sizes.

    Source: (Education Week, 12/17/19; Education Week, 3/11/19)

  • Offered zero for preschool programs. The president’s budget proposal did not include any funding for the Preschool Development Grants program. In addition, the Trump administration did not support any funding increases for Head Start or the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

    Source: (Education Week, 12/17/19)

  • He’s making for-profit colleges great again. In keeping his promise to reverse Obama-era policies, the president directed his Education Department to dismantle Obama-era regulations designed to crack down on for-profit colleges with a track record of misleading and predatory practices.

    Source: (Donald J. Trump campaign website, accessed 1/23/20; Inside Higher Ed, 11/1/19)

  • 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 that was designed to help close the wage gap. According to the President, pay disparities between men and women are difficult to address because “it’s very hard to say what is the same job.” He also offered 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 campaign website, accessed 1/23/20; Time, 4/2/19; The Washington Post, 3/5/19)

  • Promises, promises. The president’s plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs has stalled, and a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act remains in limbo even as his administration seeks to strike down the law in federal court. Although he claims that he has saved coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, his Justice Department has argued for the invalidation of that provision in the current litigation.

    Source: (The Wall Street Journal, 1/21/20; The Washington Post, 12/11/19)

  • Anything is possible with a second term. The president claims that making changes to entitlement spending is “the easiest of all things.” As a candidate in 2016, he promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. However, as president, his budget requests routinely call for cuts to Medicaid and Social Security disability programs.

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

  • Proposes another tax cut to benefit the wealthy. The president considered a highly regressive plan to cut taxes by indexing capital gains to inflation. In a move that would largely benefit the wealthy, the president could use an executive order to bypass Congress and deliver another tax cut for the “top 0.1.” Reports indicate that the president is holding off for now concerned that to do so would appear “elitist.” However, his administration plans to revisit tax cuts in a second term.

    Source: (The Washington Post, 1/22/20; CNBC, 9/11/19; The Washington Post, 6/28/19; Bloomberg, 6/27/19)

  • School choice is a priority. The president’s spending on federal charter school grants has increased by more than 30 percent since he first took office. In his current budget proposal, the president recommends a $60 million increase for charter schools to $500 million. He also has proposed to increase the amount of Title I funds states can set aside to support public school choice.

    Source: (Donald J. Trump campaign website, accessed 1/22/20; ThinkProgress, 3/11/19; The 74 Million, 3/11/19)

  • Talk is cheap. Despite “admiring” teachers, the president has proposed eliminating $2.1 billion in federal funding for educators. He prefers to support small and competitive programs that increase compensation for teachers in STEM fields and provide stipends for teachers to select their own training options.

    Source: (Politico, 4/29/19; The Atlantic, 3/11/19; The 74, 3/11/19)

  • Vouchers are a hallmark of his administration. The president’s school choice agenda includes proposing a federal voucher program of $5 billion per year, or $50 billion over ten years. He has also proposed $250 million to promote private school choice through the Education Innovation and Research program. President Trump describes vouchers as “a shot at achieving the American Dream!”

    Source: (Donald J. Trump campaign website, accessed 1/22/20; AP 4/24/19)

  • 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. To reduce gun violence in schools, the president has floated a proposal to pay teachers bonuses for carrying weapons. The president did sign into law the STOP School Violence Act and has requested more than double in funding for school safety measures.

    Source: (Donald J. Trump campaign website, accessed 1/22/20; ABC News, 8/5/19; Education Week, 3/11/19)

  • Here today and gone tomorrow. The president and Congressional Democratic leaders briefly reached an infrastructure agreement. A feature of the $2 trillion plan included expanding broadband systems. Republicans swiftly resisted the tentative deal for its “hefty price tag,” and talks stalled despite the president tweeting that it was “badly needed!”

    Source: (The Washington Post, 5/4/19)

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

    Source: (GAO report, 9/5/19; Forbes, 3/12/19)

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