On the subject of policy, Joe Biden, perhaps in an effort to avoid the gaffs and solecisms for which he is well known, has been one of the more taciturn candidates running for the Democratic nomination. While other contenders have spent the last few months releasing ambitious policy proposals, Biden has stuck to anodyne calls for bipartisanship
and generic nostrums stripped
of the nuts and bolts.
This particular stratagem seems to be working. By any reasonable measure, Biden is shellacking
his opponents in the polls. But with the first Democratic primary debate
only a month out, Biden has begun to open up about the specific measures he would push for as President.
On Tuesday the Biden campaign unveiled its first detailed policy plan, focused on K-12 public education, before a town hall event in Houston hosted by the American Federation of Teachers. Democratic candidates have been angling to earn the endorsement of teachers’ unions, a key voting bloc
in the Democratic Party, and Biden’s plan seems tailor-made to pique their interest.
At the heart of Biden’s plan for public education
is a call to triple funding to schools that serve a large number of low-income students through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. About 62% of public schools receive
Title I funding in the United States, and Biden’s plan would increase
the total amount of federal grants from $16 billion to $48 billion each year.
Schools receiving Title I funding would be required to use a significant portion of the money to increase teacher pay and provide pre-kindergarten to 3-and-4-year olds, but could use the leftover funds for a variety of purposes.
The Biden campaign described the increase in Title I funding as a way to address the funding gap between majority white and majority non-white school districts.
Other parts of the plan include doubling
the number of mental health professionals in schools, providing grants to school districts to increase racial diversity, bolstering vocational training
so high school students can, if they wish, graduate with industry certifications.
Biden also said he opposes for-profit charter schools.
The Biden campaign did not describe how much his plan would cost or how it would be funded.