Finally! An Educator in the White House!

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House brings the excit­ing prospect of an increased voice for educators and the expectation that federal public educa­tion policy will be driven by experienced educators.

In NEA member Dr. Jill Biden, America will have a career educa­tor as First Lady who plans to continue working at Northern Virginia Community College. “Teaching isn’t just what she does—it’s who she is,” President-elect Biden said in a victory speech after being declared the winner of the presidential race. “For America’s educators, this is a great day: You’re going to have one of your own in the White House.”

The president-elect has chosen Linda Darling-Hammond, presi­dent and CEO of the Learn­ing Policy Institute and president of the Cali­fornia State Board of Education, to lead the Education

Department transition team. Dr. Darling-Hammond has Maryland connections as well, writing a letter of support in 2017 for the Protect Our Schools Act, legislation that MSEA suc­cessfully championed to reduce the focus on standardized testing in school accountability and increase educator voice in school improvement policies.

Dr. Darling-Hammond’s influential research and policy work has centered on achiev­ing equitable and empowering education through meaningful learning, educator quality, and adequate resources. “Dr. Darling-Hammond is an educator and leader on the issues we care about, whose work is held in great regard—for example, the Kirwan Commission referred to her work when writing the historic Blue­print for Maryland’s Future. It’s very promising that she is leading this transition,” said MSEA Presi­dent Cheryl Bost.

Educators are eager to see the fulfillment of one of President-elect Biden’s campaign promises of selecting a secretary of educa­tion who has been a public school teacher. “After the reckless years of Donald Trump and Betsy De­Vos, I am confident we will have the skilled, experienced, and compassionate educators we need leading education policy in Washing­ton,” said Bost.

Biden ran on an education platform that promises to increase the number of school psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers, fund universal pre-k for three- and four-year-olds, make community college free, address student debt, and increase Pell grants to help low-income students. He has also endorsed billions of dollars in education-related coronavirus relief to assist with the safe and sustainable reopening of school buildings, including reduced class sizes, ventilation systems, and more.

The incoming administra­tion also plans to quickly undo many of Betsy DeVos’ unconscio­nable actions, including restoring protections for transgender students, affirma­tive action in col­lege admissions, and reinstating guidance on school discipline policies.

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