Election and Education

No doubt about it, the 2020 presidential election will impact future generations for years to come in terms of the education sphere and the course of actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. People underestimate the power of educated voters, not in a sense of whether they have had academic schooling or not, but being informed on each candidate’s stances on certain topics and policies, which is extremely important. And that’s what I’m here to do, I want to provide an overview of the views our two major party candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, take on education in general and in response to COVID-19. Make sure to exercise your right to vote if you are of eligible age and circumstances, the future of education for younger generations will depend on it.

Education Response to COVID-19

This pandemic has completely disheveled and overturned the schooling atmosphere as we know it. I still remember sitting in class that fateful day in March, when my principal came on the intercom and informed us that school had been canceled until Spring Break. To be honest, I was overjoyed at the prospect of an extended break, as most students would be; little did we all know that this “extended break” became more of a permanent effect and now we’ve been sitting behind screens and online learning for the past 8 months. This led me to the question, “How do both possible future Presidents plan on taking action for school reopenings, online vs. on-site learning, the safety and health of teachers and students alike, and other issues?” As a citizen myself, I find it difficult to really understand political information and I’ve always chosen to be pretty removed from the political world; however, it is an issue that I can no longer avoid and have spent the past couple of months trying to keep up with our upcoming election and the state of our country. I try to remain as unbiased as possible, trying to decide for myself how I feel and what I support based on facts, which is difficult in today’s day and age of social media and news channels that tend to lean towards a party. Here, I will try to provide the major key points of each candidate’s stance on responding to COVID-19 in the educational department.

Joe Biden

“If I were president today, I would direct FEMA to make sure our kids K-12 get full access to disaster relief and emergency assistance.” (Campaign speech, Sept. 2, 2020)

- Joe Biden

Education Department Response

– The decision for reopening schools should be left to the local department of education, deciding that the local education officials will be able to best determine whether or not they are fit to reopen schools.

– Wants to offer more federal emergency education funding and proper federal guidelines to how local education departments must take action.

– Getting the virus under control by providing sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) and masks for every school through the Defense Production Act.

– Provide accommodation for all educators and students at risk, including pre-existing health conditions, advising them not to reopen if in high-level COVID areas.

Funding

– Primary plan pledged to triple annual federal funding for low-income household students to approximately $49 billion under Title I.

– Offered almost 40% covering of funding costs related to special education services and enact the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

– Address the $23 billion discrepancy between white and non-white areas in public education.

Remote Learning

– Wants to bring improvements to remote learning and encourage hybrid learning plans in areas that are prepared to reopen.

– Emphasize quality of education for students with disabilities.

Donald Trump

“Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won't!" (Twitter, July 10, 2020)

- Donald Trump

Education Department Response

- Wants schools to reopen as soon and whenever possible, citing that resuming in-person learning will benefit the economy.

- Threatens to withhold federal education funding if in-person learning is not resumed, supporting legislation that requires a partiality of schools to reopen face-to-face learning in order to receive pandemic education aid.

- Released federal guidelines about school coronavirus transmissions and safety in September, months after local education departments had requested for it.

- Believes students and children are immune from the coronavirus and older teachers be allowed to stay home, but remote learning should be discontinued

Funding

– During his first term as President, the US Department of Education budget has increased $5 billion, even though he pledged in 2016 to cut 13.5% of education funding.

– His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, wants to redirect funding from the current public educational system to families and schools of their choice.

Remote Learning

– Granted $180 million to states in attempts to aid online learning and technological connections.

– Dismisses remote learning as a subpar method compared to in-person learning, citing reasons of poorer mental health on students and negative effects on the economy if schools are kept closed.

Final Thoughts?

Voting as an educated citizen is crucial to participating in our republican government. Understanding both perspectives of candidates and what they have to offer in an unbiased manner is important before making a choice; each presidential candidate wishes nothing but the best for our country contrary to what the media feeds the public. Carefully examine the actions President Trump and Candidate Biden say they will take, the past numbers they have put up while serving in office, and vote for the candidate you deem necessary as the solution to the problems arisen by COVID-19 as well as education. The plans that each candidate proclaims to implement into our system of education can affect every student and teacher in our country. Again, I would like to emphasize to make sure to exercise the right to vote if you are of eligible age and circumstances, the future of education for younger generations, as well as current students and teachers, will depend on it.