Response from Vice President Joe Biden to the National Principles for Latino Education
Note: Earlier this year we released our National Principles for Latino Education and began the formation of the National Alliance for Latino Education. Our goal has been to gain commitment from the presidential candidates to the principles and ultimately to hold the elected candidate accountable once in office. The following response was provided by the campaign of Vice President Joe Biden. We also reached out to the campaign of President Donald J. Trump but have not received a response. Latinos for Education does not endorse a candidate for president.
IMPROVE ACCESS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (ECE)
As President, I will build an education system that starts investing in our children at birth and helps every student get some education beyond a high school diploma, whether a certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. I will also make sure that no child’s education opportunity is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
I know from my own experience as a dad what an emotional, logistical, and financial tightrope act it can be to find quality child care, and what lifelong consequences that care can have for kids – even when you have a steady job and lots of support from family, like I did. As president, I’ll make major investments in quality, affordable child care – saving parents thousands of dollars a year, keeping them in the workforce, and giving children a strong foundation for school. I’ll start by increasing the child care tax credit to as much as $8,000 per family. I will also expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care.
And, I’ll expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and a national summer jobs program, to keep kids active and learning after school hours.
I will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four -year-olds. For families with young children, finding highly quality pre-K is a major financial, logistical, and emotional burden, with potentially life-long consequences for their children. As President, I will work with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds. This investment will ease the burden on our families, help close the achievement gap, promote the labor participation of parents who want to work, and lift our critical early childhood education workforce out of poverty. Childcare workers will also benefit from my plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. I will also ensure that care professionals receive overtime.
The Obama-Biden Administration extended long overdue overtime and minimum wage protections to nearly 2 million home care workers. As president, I will codify these protections into law and build on them.
I will also provide early childhood development support to families where they are most likely to access it – the pediatrician’s office. For many families with young children, the pediatrician’s office is the one place where they interact with service providers before their child enters school. I will provide funds to ensure that there is an early childhood development expert in every community health center. I will also provide grants to help cities place early childhood development experts in other pediatrician offices with a high percentage of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program patients. These experts, as part of the primary care team, will help identify whether children are reaching development milestones, help connect families to additional services like home visiting when needed, and answer parents’ questions regarding child development so every child in the U.S. is placed on the path to succeed once they start kindergarten.
ADDRESS THE PIPELINE FOR DIVERSE TEACHERS AND LEADERS
Research shows us the substantial and unique impact that teachers of color have on students of color. I will support more innovative approaches to recruiting teachers of color, including supporting high school students in accessing dual-enrollment classes that give them an edge in teacher preparation programs, helping paraprofessionals work towards their teaching certificate, and working with historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions to recruit and prepare teachers.
I will also support our educators, and address the pipeline for diverse teachers and leaders, by giving our teachers the pay and dignity they deserve. In 2018, public school teachers made 21.4 percent less than workers with similar education and experience. And public school teachers’ average weekly wage hasn’t increased since 1996. Teachers and school personnel do some of the most important and hardest work, but too often they aren’t rewarded. As President, I will correct this wrong. I will triple funding for Title I, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families, and require districts to use these funds to offer educators competitive salaries and make other critical investments prior to directing the funds to other purposes. Dramatically increasing Title I funding in order to give teachers a raise will allow school districts and educators to decide what the biggest need is for their communities instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. And, it will ensure that states which have been treating their teachers fairly but still have unmet needs for Title I schools can benefit from these funds.
I will also invest in teacher mentoring, leadership, and additional education. We need more opportunities for highly effective teachers to remain in the classroom and advance in their careers. My administration will help school districts create opportunities for teachers to lead beyond the classroom.
Teachers will be able to serve as mentors and coaches to other teachers and as leaders of professional learning communities, and will be compensated for that additional work they take on. These funds will also be used to help teachers who choose to earn an additional certification in a high-demand area – like special education or bilingual education – while they are still teaching do so without accumulating debt.
I will also expand career pathways for graduates of Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers. I will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including Department of Energy National Laboratories, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.
You can read more about my plan to support educators at https://joebiden.com/education/.
INCREASE COLLEGE ACCESS AND IMPROVE COLLEGE COMPLETION
In today’s increasingly globalized and technology-driven economy, 12 years of education is no longer enough for American workers to remain competitive and earn a middle class income. Roughly 6 in 10 jobs require some education beyond a high school diploma. And, because technology continues to change, American workers – whether they have an industry-recognized credential, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a PhD – will need opportunities to continue to learn and grow their skills for career success and increased wages in the 21st century economy.
But for too many, earning a degree or other credential after high school is unaffordable today. For others, their education saddles them with so much debt it prevents them from buying a home or saving for retirement, or their parents or grandparents take on some of the financial burden. I have proposed a bold plan for education and training beyond high school that will give hard-working Americans the chance to join or maintain their place in the middle class, regardless of their parents’ income or the color of their skin.
Key to my plan is making public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, as well as providing two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs. Importantly, this initiative will not just be for recent high school graduates; it will also be available to adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills. And, students who do want a bachelor’s degree could then transfer to a four-year school, including to Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions that play vital roles in their communities.
I will also create a new grant program to assist community colleges in improving their students’ success. My administration will support community colleges implementing evidence-based practices and innovative solutions to increase their students’ retention and completion of credentials. Reforms could include academic and career advising services; dual enrollment; credit articulation agreements; investing in wages, benefits, and professional development to recruit and retain faculty, including teacher residencies; and improvements to remediation programs. My community college initiative will be a first-dollar program, meaning that students will be able to use their Pell grants, state aid, and other aid to help them cover expenses beyond tuition and fees. In addition, my plan will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. I also commit to making a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships.
I will also target additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. Doubling the maximum value of Pell grants will increase the grant value for individuals already eligible for Pell and, given the program’s formula for determining eligibility, expand the benefits of Pell to more middle class Americans. As president, I will also take care of young immigrants by ensuring DREAMers are eligible for financial aid if they meet other requirements for that aid. And, I will restore formerly incarcerated individuals’ eligibility for Pell.
I will also more than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. Under my plan, individuals making $25,000 or less per year will not owe any payments on their undergraduate federal student loans and also won’t accrue any interest on those loans. Everyone else will pay 5% of their discretionary income (income minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food) over $25,000 toward their loans. This plan will save millions of Americans thousands of dollars a year. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven. Individuals with new and existing loans will all be automatically enrolled in the income-based repayment program, with the opportunity to opt out if they wish. In addition to relieving some of the burden of student debt, this will enable graduates to pursue careers in public service and other fields without high levels of compensation. I will also create a new, simple program which offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. And I have called for our economic recovery package stemming from COVID-19 to include a suspension of loan payments during the crisis and forgiveness of a minimum of $10,000 in federal student debt for every borrower.
My plan also calls for creating a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The funds from the new grant program will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges. I will also create seamless pathways between high school, job training, community college, and four-year programs to help students get their degrees and credentials faster by providing grants to states that work to accelerate students’ attainment of credentials, including bachelor’s degrees, while still ensuring quality and accountability.
Moreover, Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and other Minority-serving Institutions (MSIs) serve a disproportionate number of students of color and low-income students, yet are severely under-resourced, especially when compared to other colleges and universities. My plan will invest $18 billion in grants to these four-year schools. Schools must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year over year for students of color. I will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities. These funds will provide additional work study opportunities and incentivize state, private, and philanthropic dollars for these centers.
I will also invest $20 billion in infrastructure for these institutions to build the physical research facilities and labs urgently needed to deliver on the country’s research and development, to update and modernize deteriorating facilities, including by strengthening the Historic Preservation program, and to create new space for increasing enrollments, especially at HSIs. I’ll invest $10 billion in programs that increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment rates, and invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including Department of Energy National Laboratories, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Expand broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American, recognizing that millions of households without access to home broadband – including nearly two in five Latinos – are locked out of an economy that is increasingly reliant on virtual collaboration. As the COVID-19 crisis has made clear, Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet to do their jobs, participate equally in remote school learning and stay connected. This digital divide needs to be closed everywhere.