Reforms put in place by Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are in danger of being gutted by the incoming Biden administration. The plain fact that Joe Biden’s education transition team has four members of the giant teacher’s unions among their ranks should be a warning signal of things to come.
But it was candidate Biden himself who declared war on Trump’s education department. Many significant reforms, including rewriting the sexual assault rules for colleges — rules Biden help create during the Obama presidency — as well as several school choice reforms put in place by Secretary DeVos, could be undone either through legislation or executive action.
The Biden administration plans to restore Obama-era civil rights guidance — rescinded by Ms. DeVos — that offered transgender students the right to choose school bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, that addressed the disproportionate disciplining of Black students and that pressed for diversity in colleges and K-12 classrooms. The restoration of those guidance documents can be done immediately because they were not put through the regulatory process or enacted into law.
What appears to be safe for now are the rules governing investigations of sexual misconduct. Those were regulations that went through the regulatory process of approval and have survived several court challenges. Another regulation or legislative action would have to be initiated to reverse them.
Another area that will see massive changes is in student loan forgiveness, especially for students who feel they were cheated by for-profit schools.
The administration is likely to prioritize the immense backlog of loan forgiveness claims that the Trump administration allowed to pile up, and the mass denials of assistance that the department has issued to students who claim they were cheated by their colleges, according to officials familiar with the plans. Among the thousands of students awaiting relief are those who attended Corinthian Colleges, a now defunct for-profit college chain that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sued when she was the attorney general of California.
There’s no doubt that these for-profit schools need more regulation. But the Biden administration is more interested in destroying the entire industry. Mainstream colleges and universities have seen them as a threat for years and want them gone. Then they can take on the online schools that have been flourishing during the pandemic and offer so many more choices to students than attending a brick-and-mortar institution.
The president of the National Parents Union, Keri Rodrigues, is worried.
Keri Rodrigues, the president of the National Parents Union, which represents low-income parents and parents of color, said the composition of the team made her worried that the Biden administration might stack the government with people who are “interested in fortifying the status quo that has been failing so many of our kids.”
“This is the biggest table right now,” she said of the transition team, “and I don’t see parent groups, family groups, community groups present.” She added, “It seems we’re back to the same old, ‘We’re going to do things to you, not with you.’”
Attacks on charter schools, a return to star-chamber justice for college men unlucky enough to be caught up in a sexual assault charge, and fulfilling a wishlist of union demands on pay, benefits, and social justice priorities are in store for America’s parents and school kids. And it’s going to start at home. The Biden administration will almost certainly close every school that’s open until the coronavirus is “controlled.”
That’s what the teacher’s unions want. And that’s what the teacher’s unions will get.