World-Class Education in Every ZIP Code: The Biden-Sanders Unity Platform

Highlights:

It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere, is able to receive a world-class education that enables them to lead meaningful lives, no matter their race, ZIP code, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or household income.

Guaranteeing Universal High-Quality Early Childhood Education. Democrats support:

  • working with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds, expand Head Start and Early Head Start, and ensure access to programs for students with disabilities and English-language learners;
  • raising early childhood standards and providing professional development for educators.
  • early childhood educators should be paid a fair wage and able to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions; and
  • making childcare and dependent tax credits more generous.

Supporting High-Quality K-12 Schools. Each year, the United States spends $23 billion more on schools in predominantly white districts than in non-white districts. Democrats will close this funding gap. We will also ensure reliable funding for rural and Bureau of Indian Education schools.

No student should ever be shamed over school lunch debt. We support expanding universal free school meal programs. We also support wraparound healthcare and nutrition services, before- and after-school programs, and adult education classes.

Democrats will work to expand access to career and technical education, magnet schools for science and the arts, International Baccalaureate programs, and early college high schools.

Democrats believe that education is a public good, which is why we will ban for-profit private charter businesses from receiving federal funding. We recognize the need for more stringent guardrails to ensure charter schools are good stewards of federal funds. And Democrats oppose private school vouchers that divert taxpayer-funded resources away from the public schools.

Democrats are committed to guaranteeing schools are spaces of physical and psychological safety. Guns have no place in our schools. All schools should have resources to expand school-based health services and hire guidance counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Democrats support reissuing federal guidance to reduce disparate disciplinary treatment of students of color. We will act expeditiously to reinstate guidance protecting transgender students’ rights, and make clear that schools may not discriminate based on LGBTQ status.

Democrats will fund initiatives to help improve integration. We will also reinvigorate and increase funding for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

We will fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and support aggressive enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act in schools and other settings.

Public school educators should have the same rights to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain as private sector workers. Democrats will fight to significantly increase pay and benefits for all educators.

Making Higher Education Affordable and Accessible. We will fight to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for students whose families earn less than $125,000 – roughly 80 percent of Americans. We will double the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income students, and increase federal support for programs that help first-generation college students, students with disabilities, veterans, and other underrepresented groups. Democrats support making community colleges tuition-free for all students, including Dreamers.

We will increase federal support for services like childcare on college campuses, so more students are able to balance school and family and go on to graduate. Democrats also support increased funding for wraparound services, including covering fees and textbooks costs for low-income students, and programs to address campus food insecurity.

We will promote transparency and fairness regarding higher education faculty working conditions, including adjuncts, graduate employees, and full-time lecturers.

Providing Borrowers Relief From Crushing Student Debt. Democrats will work to authorize up to $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower to help families weather the COVID-19 crisis and President Trump’s recession. Democrats will also ease the burden of student loan payments by pausing monthly billing, stopping interest from accruing on federal student loans for people earning less than $25,000, and capping payments at no more than five percent of discretionary income for those earning more than $25,000. After 20 years, remaining federal student loan debt should be automatically forgiven.

Democrats support modernizing the public service loan forgiveness program, and will make the program more generous by forgiving up to $10,000 in student debt per year for up to five years.

Democrats will crack down on predatory for-profit higher education programs, and call upon the Secretary of Education to forgive debt carried by students who were ripped off.

Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Democrats support significant increases in emergency funding for school districts and public and nonprofit colleges and universities.

School district should be supported in determining when distance learning is necessary. Democrats will fight to expand broadband Internet access, and direct the OSHA to develop COVID-19 standards to protect frontline school workers.

Read the full plan here.

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