A time to heal? The 2020 election and education funding
What will a new federal administration bring to our country and to education?
The year 2020 has been an emotional roller coaster. This past election week, I felt hope, fear, faith, disillusionment, elation, and despair. Many of us exhaled a huge sigh of relief and finally slept well, while others were devastated.
The election week for me started out awful. Sunday night around midnight, I was petting an old pet cat and knew he would not make it through the night. As I told him it was okay to let go and how much he had meant to us, he took his last breath, twice. This was the cat who, as a kitten, had helped me handle the stress of my husband’s last military deployment before he retired. My cat’s life and death also forced me to reflect more on how COVID-19 and systemic racism has affected our country: the unfinished lives, the families who were declined the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones, and the battle we must still wage.
We are in an era of monumental healing and strategic repair of our country, which has been ripped at the seams through division and hate."
What will a new federal administration bring to our country and to education? In my opinion, K-12 education funding will increase and return to Obama-era policies. Grant funding will most likely focus on social justice, advocacy, immigrants/refugees, eliminating systemic racism, meeting the needs of disenfranchised students, distance learning, diversity, cyberbullying, school safety, mental health, workforce development, and addressing the pandemic and its consequences head on.
The Trump administration continually tried in the past four years to eliminate after-school program funding for faulty reasons, ignoring evidence that programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) improve student achievement. This administration also eliminated corporate diversity trainings and disapproved of cultural classes focused on certain ethnic groups. I see a reversal of fortunes in these areas under a Biden/Harris administration.
Depending on whether the Democrats manage to gain majority in the Senate, more education funding may come through a relief fund, like the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds after the 2008 recession. According to Andrew Ujifusa from Education Week, state mandated decreases to K-12 education funding due to COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects. The Save Education Jobs Act, if passed, would infuse up to $261 billion to save school jobs over the next ten years, until our country’s unemployment rate lowers to 5.5 percent (Id.).
Per Sean Cavanaugh, EdWeek Market Brief Managing Editor, a Biden administration will increase Title I funding. State funds such as Proposition 208 in Arizona, which passed narrowly, will impose a 3.5% income tax on those who earn more than $250,000 individually and household incomes over $500,000. However, this funding will not be available to K-12 schools until 2022. We have yet to see whether Proposition 208 will lead to a projected $940 million dollar revenue for schools. Proposition 15 in California, which would escalate commercial property taxes to support education, appears to be losing at this time.
A Biden administration, with a teacher as our First Lady, will respect students, teachers, parents, and all those involved in education. Joe Biden has pledged to:
- Triple Title I funds and schools must use this money to increase teacher salaries before moving on to other needed areas
- Invest in teacher leadership capacity through coaching, mentoring, and moving up the ladder, with extra pay for additional work
- Ensure the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program works better for teachers by paying off student loans they incurred in college
- Double the number of mental health professionals in schools (i.e., nurses, psychologists, social workers, counselors)
- Expand community schools programming for an additional 300,000 students and families (i.e., after-school student services, healthcare, social services, adult education)
- Improve workforce readiness by investing in school building infrastructure and technology needs for students to learn in a safe environment
- Keep children safe in schools by imposing rational gun laws through banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, instilling universal background checks, along with trauma-informed care for those who face gun violence. Teachers will not be armed in schools, and the Second Amendment will not be eliminated. Joe Biden says, “It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment.”
Dr. Jill Biden says, “Any country that out-educates us will out-compete us.” Approximately six out of every 10 jobs in our country require additional education past high school.
The Biden stance is, “Investing in all children from birth, so that regardless of their zip code, parent’s income, race, or disability, they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.”
Sounds like a fantastic goal to me, whether we are still shadowed by a pandemic, have a vaccine with widespread application, or continue living in the Divided States of America. Hopefully, we will all welcome working towards positivity, an end to systemic racism, eradicating gun violence, and a substantial investment in education to thoroughly address the myriad needs in our country.