Vice President Joe Biden’s Education Platform Unpacked
Issue Insights

Vice President Joe Biden’s Education Platform Unpacked

Education policy shapes our communities, our children, and our future. While most K-12 and higher education policies are set and executed by the states, the federal government plays a significant role in setting parameters and making federal funds available.

The Trump administration’s education agenda is spelled out online across the U.S. Department of Education website. But what would education policy look like in a Biden administration?

As the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden pledges to make the American education system more equitable, accessible, and affordable from early childhood to young adulthood. His proposed policies focus on educating and caring for the whole student, as well as the academic ecosystem they inhabit.

Here are some highlights. If elected, Biden promises to:

Work with states to provide pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds. His platform supports easing the burden on low-income families and prioritizing early childhood education for all children.

In K-12 education, Biden promised to invest in programs that help students grow physically and emotionally. He wants to double the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and health professionals in schools, so all students have access to the care they need.

Biden said he would grow teacher diversity through professional development programs and lowering barriers to the education profession for people of color, along with tripling Title I funding to support schools serving a high volume of children from low-income families from about $16 billion per year to about $48 billion. For students with disabilities, Biden supports fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) over the next ten years. Biden is open to working with charter schools that are transparent with the federal government. A Biden administration, however, would oppose the expansion of for-profit charter schools.

An analysis by VOX found that the former vice president differs from the Obama administration in one fundamental way: Obama believed in measuring school and teacher quality through standardized tests, and that states needed to hold schools and teachers accountable for student growth. This approach alienated some teachers, who are typically Democratic allies. Ed Week reports that Biden’s education policy draws largely on his wife, Dr. Jill Biden’s experience as a community college professor.

Biden’s plan, VOX suggests, would take a more conciliatory approach. He believes the federal government’s role is to partner with schools and teachers rather than push states to hold schools accountable. By working with these schools and providing an influx of federal funding, Biden hopes these partnerships could address the inequalities he sees in schools across the nation.

Biden says his plans for increased gun control and infrastructure spending would help make schools safer.

Biden said he believes higher education is a means to build a stronger middle class. Joe Biden’s higher education policy promised to make education after high school an equitable and affordable option for everyone. He embraces the College for All Act of 2017 to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with annual incomes below $125,000. Biden would double the maximum value of Pell grants, which would significantly increase the number of middle-class students who participate. For students of color and diverse backgrounds, Biden promises to address the funding disparities facing Historically Black Colleges and UniversitiesTribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions. He promised to invest $70 billion in these colleges and universities to make them more affordable for students and develop new centers of excellence in areas such as globalization, climate change, and inequality.

Biden’s plan for educators. Biden’s plans to triple Title I funding would require districts to use these funds to offer educators competitive salaries. To support the growth of current and future teachers, Biden said he would update the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Additionally, Biden promised to encourage ongoing professional development by compensating teachers for mentoring other educators or pursuing supplemental certificates.