100-Day Policy Recommendations for Biden-Harris Administration
December 7, 2020
The Biden-Harris Administration will enter office with an unprecedented and unique array of challenges to ensuring equity, fairness, and excellence in our education system. Some of these challenges are not new. Decades-old policies of inequity and systemic racism continue to limit opportunities for students from low-income families, students of color, and others from historically disadvantaged groups. What’s more, the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated these troubling and chronic impediments to student success not just in education policy and practice, but more broadly with regard to the dire economic and resource straits in which millions of families find themselves across the United States.
We urge the President- and Vice President-elect to advance education policies that aspire to the historic role the federal government has played in narrowing opportunity gaps and channeling resources to the students and schools most in need of them, toward the goal of ensuring that a high-quality education is a universal right for all, regardless of race, family income, zip code, disability, or country of origin. Increased resources for education are desperately needed, but not enough. We believe that, in addition to President-elect Biden’s commitment to unprecedented levels of funding, transformative change will require innovative and bold policies directed at improving outcomes for our nation’s historically underserved students.
Read our Recommendations for Elementary & Secondary Education
and Higher Education
Below, you can also find an overview of the recommendations.
Elementary & Secondary Education
- Present a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 relief, starting negotiations with the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions “HEROES” Act, proposed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. Included within a ‘COVID-4” relief bill should be funding provisions to support the following:
- Universal broadband for every household in America, as well as internet-connected devices for every K-12 student.
- “Pandemic Pods” and high-dosage tutoring that would make small group instruction outside of the classroom available to all public school students, regardless of family income.
- Resume the administration of annual statewide summative assessments in Spring 2021.
- Ensure that the school accountability, support, and improvement systems in states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans capture key metrics designed to hold districts and states to account for addressing the educational needs of students, with some time-limited flexibility for modest adjustments that may be needed due to the pandemic.
- Present a plan to compensate, prepare, and support a diverse, highly effective, and well-paid teaching force.
- Support provisions contained in the Supporting the Teaching Profession Through Revitalizing Investments in Valuable Educators “STRIVE Act” that would increase the value of federal TEACH Scholarships and make the teacher loan forgiveness program more generous, less backloaded, and better targeted to high-need schools, subjects, and specialty areas.
- Work with Congress to simplify eligibility requirements for teacher loan forgiveness programs under the Higher Education Act.
- Support changes to Title II of the Higher Education Act that would support states in making a wider range of relevant data available to educator preparation programs (EPPs) and other stakeholders; recognize best EPP practices; provide supports to EPPs in need of improvement; and take corrective action in cases of persistent underperformance of EPP.
- Support the Teachers and School LEADERS Act that would expand the range of high quality EPP programs eligible for Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants.
- Support changes to accreditation policies for EPP’s under the Higher Education Act that emphasize outcomes over inputs.
- Maintain federal funding through the Charter Schools Program for high-quality public charter schools.
- End federal funding for for-profit charter schools.
- Preserve and support autonomy for public charter schools in exchange for accountability for results.
Postsecondary Education & Training
- Reinstate and expand the COVID-19 pause on all federal student loan payments, interest accumulation, and debt collection.
- Cancel all federal student loan debt for borrowers deemed totally and permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration and those who have been exploited by fraudulently misleading institutions of higher education.
- Cancel tuition and fee student loan debt for all other borrowers with incomes up to the Biden-Harris free college proposal family income limit for future students (i.e. $125,000 per year)—done automatically and with no application using IRS tax data.
- Propose a reconciliation of higher education pre-college, in-college, and post-college subsidy design and delivery that increases benefits, including federal student loan debt cancelation, for those in low and hard-pressed middle-income households.
- Develop a free-college legislative package that covers the total cost of attendance at two- & four-year colleges and supports college completion through a system of direct aid to participating colleges, partnering school districts, and community-based organizations.
- Pursue, without need for further Congressional action, use of existing statutory authority to implement the Biden tuition free-college proposal for all relevant families at public two- and four-year colleges as well as non-profit, private minority serving institutions.
- Incorporate the “Fast Track To and Through College Act” into the first full Biden-Harris budget proposal.
- Allow through Executive Action alone dual enrollment high-school students to access Pell Grant aid and issue related guidance to high schools and institutions of higher education.
- Direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue a notice of non-prosecution of federal antitrust law for cases of college collaboration around a specific set of activities (e.g., ending legacy preference, binding early decision, increased use of need-based financial aid) to increase enrollment of working-class, low-income, and historically underrepresented racial minority students.
- Re-examine and revise the public charity tax status definition for institutions of higher education to ensure they evidence a meaningful commitment to fair and full access.
- Include the Coons-Rosen ASPIRE Act in the first Biden-Harris budget, among other financial incentives for colleges to enroll working-class and low-income students.
- Embrace what we call “The McConnell Principle” to provide endowment tax relief to high access colleges.
- Require states, as well as colleges and universities, that accept federal aid to establish access, completion, and economic success goals for students overall and disaggregate major racial and socioeconomic subgroups of students.
- Confer priority bonus points in federal grant competitions to colleges and universities based on their evidence of a meaningful commitment to diversity and socioeconomic mobility as reflected in access and completion metrics.
- Hold accountable states and colleges that persistently fail to evidence a meaningful commitment to diversity. Embrace a set of escalating consequences ranging from heightened targeting of federal aid and increased use of need-based aid to conditioned institution leadership change.
- Set a new precedent that Cabinet-level and senior White House officials, including the President and Vice President will tie major appearances, such as commencement addresses, to institutional evidence of a meaningful commitment to diversity and socioeconomic mobility as reflected in access and completion metrics.
- Increase the set-aside of Federal Work Study funds for community service and clarify that they may be used for voter registration, non-partisan engagement, and participation activities. When we all vote, we all win.
April 20, 2021
April 12, 2021