Biden’s Battle For Education

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On Nov 7th, Joe Biden was declared winner of the presidential election by most major news outlets, and while this is still being contested by the Trump administration it is all but locked in. Over the past year, Biden has promised many things to American citizens around the country. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the strengthening of tribal nations, Biden seems dead set on initiating change in this country. One of the changes he has been vocal about is the financial struggles of students and teachers alike but the question is if these plans will remain dead in the water as quickly COVID-19 takes priority.
“College is definitely overpriced in my opinion.” Junior, Sami Wynter said. “My parents are still paying off their student loans, and as I am going into college next year I have been struggling to find a place that’s affordable for me.”
According to The Federal Reserve, the national student loan debt has reached $1.6 trillion. Biden has openly boasted of his plans to relieve pressure from students by erasing $10,000 debt for families that earn less $50,000, and while it has drawn criticism from his opposition, students like Wynter would benefit from changes like this. Still, the concern remains if an endeavor like this is even possible and what the effects of this law could be.
“The school system isn’t necessarily bad but it could and should definitely be improved,” Wynter said.
It is evident that Biden aspires to provide high schoolers and middle schoolers with a pathway to success. When looking at JoeBiden.com, he states that he wants to raise funding for shop classes and the arts. Shop classes have proved to get students engaged in school and ease anxiety yet their prevalence in American schools are still declining. The Biden administration plans to invest in school vocational training and partnerships with high schools and colleges.
Another issue that Biden plans to tackle is educator pay. In 2018 the teacher wage penalty hit a record high in 2018, according to epi.org. Teacher wage penalty being how much less public school teachers are paid in weekly wages relative to other college-educated workers. Though it varies from state to state, the wage penalty is over 20 percent in 21 states and teacher wages actually fell 17 percent from 1996 to 2001. Biden plans to triple title I, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students with low-income families, while requiring them to use these funds to provide educators better salaries.
“I think the teachers do way more than they are paid to do,” said sophomore, Loryn Thorpe. “They have to work overtime and they aren’t paid enough for that”
Low teacher wages not only endanger the educators themselves, but also any family that they need to be providing for. Students like Thorpe are suffering at the expense of the poor pay given to teachers and would like to see a change in the way educator pay is handled. According to nea.org, about 20 percent of teachers hold second jobs during the school year. Biden intends to give teachers the respect and dignity they deserve and many are confident that he’ll follow through with this obligation due to his personal attachment to the issue since his wife has been an educator for many years.
Of course, there are still concerns with the rising cases of COVID-19 in the US overtaking the priority of education related issues. While the news of the new pfizer vaccine seems hopeful Biden still plans to push for nation-wide mask mandates and give schools, along with small businesses, the resources to make it through the pandemic safely. He also intends to call on Congress to pass an emergency package to ensure schools can effectively adapt to the COVID-19 threat.
Biden’s presidency could mean many things for the US but in regards to education it means adaptation. Biden aims to build a safe and healthy environment in which kids can grow and learn without the worry of mountainous debt or deadly viruses directly out of a dystopian novel. Nobody can know for certain what these changes may mean for the country as a whole but one can certainly hope that Biden will be a competent president that truly believes in his goal.