The last four years consisted of countless horrible decisions made by our President, one being the decision to appoint Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. From the start, DeVos focused on taking funds from public school systems and giving them to religious and other private institutions. She actually proposed to cut a total of 7 billion dollars to education programs. Further, DeVos pushed for the repeal of the ruling that allows for students defrauded by their college to seek forgiveness for their loans, a ruling meant to protect students from being exploited by for-profit colleges and universities. On top of that, when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and college students found themselves struggling to pay bills, get home, and feed themselves, DeVos tried to block DACA students from receiving any aid from the Emergency CARES Act. Aside from this, DeVos also reversed Obama-era legislation that made it easier to punish sexual predators on college campuses. She actually initiated steps to allow accused rapists on college campuses to cross-examine their victims. Lastly, one of her final unconscionable moves was to draft a 13 page memorandum assuring the department of education that they need not consider or protect the rights of Transgender students.
While Besty DeVos threw numerous punches at the public school system and students in general, on January 7th of this year she announced her resignation. As for President Joe Biden’s plans for the education system of the United States, he is pushing for schools to reopen safely, with a 130 billion dollar plan to get K-12 students back into their schools. He plans to use this money for more staff - specifically nurses and teacher aids - , the reduction of class sizes, increased transportation, electronics, and internet access for students, tutoring programs, summer schools, and other projects to make up for the year of education lost to the pandemic. A section of this proposed budget is also going toward students who’ve been hit the hardest by the pandemic: those who are unable to learn without a classroom or other school resources, and thus have lost a full year of education. Furthermore, the Biden administration is looking at a pay raise for teachers and to move toward a more publicly funded pre-kindergarten system. While these are very encouraging proposals, there is still considerable debate about the opening of schools and whether Biden is pushing these openings without the necessary conditions to keep everyone safe.
As for higher education, Biden has spoken of a 35 billion dollar plan. This money would go towards health protocols, distance learning, and low income students at community colleges, public schools, and HBCUs. Biden has also spoken of more progressive policies surrounding lowering the cost of college. However, some are skeptical that this may have only been an empty campaign promise based on his past reluctance to align himself with Senator Bernie Sanders’ higher education policies. Lastly, when looking back at the damage done by DeVos, President Biden announced that he is moving toward reversing the Trump Administration's ruling that took rights away from Transgender students. In addition, he plans to get rid of DeVos’s ruling that gave students accused of sexual assault more power than their victims.
Thus, while I am thrilled as a public high school senior to be rid of both DeVos and of Trump, I remain concerned for future K-12 students, particularly for the safety of Black students subject to continuing discrimination. Furthermore, as for my peers and I who are entering higher education, I am uncertain if our futures will be filled with debt and a disregard for our safety and our identities, or if this new administration will bring us the resources and the equity that we all deserve. What I am sure of is that to achieve the latter, our voices and our fists will have to be raised loud and clear.