STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — State, city, and local decision-making typically leads the way for schools across the United States, but the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has pushed education to the forefront when it comes to the 2020 races for president and Congress.
This year’s Election Day reults will have an impact on schools over the next few months and years, according to a Chalkbeat report.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden offer different visions of the future for schools in the United States, the media outlet reported.
Chalkbeat has listed eight ways 2020 election results could affect schools, the students they serve, and educators across the nation.
1. Federal money for schools could be at stake.
According to Chalkbeat, public school budgets are facing a major crisis in the coming years. The lack of state tax dollars during the pandemic will lead to schools possibly facing budget cuts. Some schools are already facing cuts.
Public school groups are looking to the federal government for funds to schools and state government to fill that gap. Biden and congressional Democrats say they will provide money to open schools during the pandemic, the media outlet stated.
President Trump and congressional Republicans have backed additional school funding to address COVID-19 issues, but much of it was tied to a requirement that schools reopen for in-person teaching. They want to ensure private schools receive some relief, as well.
No federal help in states that desperately need funding could mean sizable cuts to public education, Chalkbeat reported.
Democratic control of the White House and Congress means additional federal money for public schools is more likely. Republican control would likely mean less money for public schools, but more for private schools, with a chance that additional funding is tied to reopening requirements.
2. Schools would face less pressure to reopen buildings under Biden, while Trump is likely to keep up the pressure.
The Trump administration has pushed schools to fully reopen buildings since the summer and has threatened to withhold federal funding to schools that don’t reopen for in-person instruction. The administration has signaled this wouldn’t change if Trump is re-elected, Chalkbeat reported.
“We’re not going to shut down,” Trump said at last week’s presidential debate while pointing to his teenage son’s recovery from COVID. “And we have to open our schools.”
Biden said he would issue national guidelines that tie school reopening to the level of local community spread. His campaign said state and local officials will ultimately decide when to reopen schools.
3. A Biden administration would boost civil rights enforcement and bring attention to issues like student discipline disparities.
Trump’s administration shrunk the size of the federal Education Department’s civil rights office and limited the scope of its investigations, according to Chalkbeat. It also revoked guidance meant to curtail racial disparities in school discipline, protect the rights of transgender students, and improve racial diversity in colleges and schools.
The administration defended the moves, explaining that removing guidance and reducing the size of the federal Education Department means states and local communities have more control.
The Biden campaign promises to strengthen the civil rights division in the Education Department by increasing funding, as well as reissuing the revoked school discipline guidance.
4. The next administration has to make an important decision on standardized testing during the 2020-2021 school year.
After state testing was canceled nationwide last spring as schools closed amid the coronavirus, the Trump administration said another cancellation is unlikely for this school year, Chalkbeat reported.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote in a letter to state school leaders last month that the expectation is that states will administer standardized assessments this school year. Data from those assessments will inform support to children based on their individual needs and provide transparency on their progress. Some congressional Democrats have praised DeVos’ move to maintain testing.
While Biden has criticized standardized testing in general, he hasn’t weighed in if his administration would cancel the tests.
5. Biden promises to spend more on public schools, while Trump’s administration has tried to cut the federal education budget.
Trump and DeVos have tried to reduce the federal education budget, but Congress has largely blocked those efforts, Chalkbeat reported.
Biden has promised a flood of new federal spending on education, pledging to triple the Title I funding that helps higher-poverty schools and to expand pre-K. He has also called for raising federal spending on special education and providing free community college, according to the media outlet.
6. Trump would likely continue to prioritize private school access, while Biden likely won’t.
DeVos’ top priority has been expanding access and funds to private schools. She argued any future pandemic relief package should include money for private schools.
It’s unclear if DeVos would stay as education secretary if Trump is re-elected, but one of her top deputies indicated she and her team likely would, according to Chalkbeat.
A Biden administration is unlikely to prioritize private schools, according to his campaign.
7. Biden promises to reinstate and expand protections for young immigrants.
In 2017, Trump tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which grants protection from deportation and work permits to young immigrants, Chalkbeat reported. Many of its recipients have been high school or college students, and research suggests DACA made undocumented students more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.
The Supreme Court blocked Trump’s efforts to end DACA earlier this year, allowing current recipients to keep and renew their status — but the federal government has since said it won’t accept new applications, Chalkbeat reported.
If re-elected, it’s expected Trump will try to end DACA again, though he has said he’s open to striking a legislative deal.
Biden said he would reinstate the program and work to make it permanent by sending Congress an immigration reform bill once he becomes president. He said the young immigrants who qualify for DACA should have a pathway to citizenship and be allowed to receive federal student loans to help pay for college.
8. Whoever controls the Senate will have a say in Supreme Court additions.
The recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barret brought to light the power the next president will have — the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices if any vacancies arise or if the court is expanded, Chalkbeat reported.
The media outlet reported that several key legal educational battles could reach the highest court in the coming years. One includes the interpretation of a recent court decision that said states can’t exclude private schools from public school funding solely because they’re religious. Some argue the laws prohibiting religious institutions from running charter schools are unconstitutional, according to Chalkbeat.
Another issue is whether there’s any federal right to an education. A third issue is how to apply a recent decision allowing public employees, including teachers, to fully opt-out of labor unions.
A last issue is what free speech rights public school students have off-campus.