WASHINGTON — Like most federal agencies, the Education Department followed President Trump’s lead in seeking to undo the legacy of his predecessor, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos diligently tore into President Barack Obama’s policies.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr’s administration is planning to return the favor.
The contrasts in Trump-era education policy and the incoming Biden administration’s agenda are stark. Ms. DeVos, a lifelong booster of private schools and longtime opponent of the teachers’ unions, set out to reduce the Education Department’s footprint by proposing cuts to public school funding and narrowing the department’s enforcement role of federal education laws and civil rights.
The incoming first lady, Jill Biden, is a community college professor and member of the National Education Association. The Biden administration has promised to drastically increase resources for public schools, expand its civil rights advocacy for marginalized students and reassert the department’s leadership in policymaking.
And on the most pressing issue facing education, reopening schools during the pandemic, the Biden administration has signaled an about-face.
The Trump administration has demanded that schools reopen, despite severe budget constraints and confusing public health guidelines, while the Education Department has all but absolved itself of tracking the virus’s impact and offering solutions. The Biden campaign has promised deep federal involvement to help schools secure more relief funding and navigate the effects of the pandemic, which has devastated the academic trajectory of the most vulnerable students.