Joe Biden on Education
Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
Your zip code shouldn't matter in access to a good education
The public school system in the country is in trouble. Delaware did one thing that other states should be doing. Delaware said that every school is required to have a minimum amount of money, no matter what their tax base is.
That began to change the question of where the teachers are and where good teachers are. One of the things we have to do is, we have to provide opportunities. It shouldn't matter what zip code you're in whether or not you have access to a good education.
Education is going to be the bellwether in the 21st century. The idea you can make it in the middle class and sustain yourself there with just 12 years of education is not accurate, whether you need a trade and/or you have to go beyond that.
We should change the way we educate our people. For example, why is it in every school, why isn't programming part of the science curricula that satisfies your science requirement?
Source: CNN S.C. Town Hall on eve of 2020 primary
, Feb 26, 2020
3X money for Title I schools; free community college tuition
We should triple the amount of money we spend for Title I schools. We should have universal pre-K. There should be free community college, cutting in half the cost of college. We should not have anyone have to pay back a student debt if they are making
less than $25,000 a year. Their debt is frozen, no interest payment until they get beyond that. We have to make continuing education available for everyone so that everyone can compete in the 21st Century. We are not doing that now.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami)
, Jun 27, 2019
2005: no bankruptcy for student loans; 2015: student relief
In Elizabeth Warren's book "The Two-Income Trap," she castigated the [2005 bankruptcy] bill as favoring special interests, singling out Biden for criticism.
Biden's team seems to concede that one provision of the bill that was not heavily debated at
the time but has become more salient since then--a rule that made private student loans nondischargeable in bankruptcy--was probably not a great idea. The campaign notes that what it refers to as the "Obama-Biden administration" formally recommended
that Congress change this in 2015, that in 2016 the Department of Education took administrative action to grant student debt relief, and that earlier in their term they took a range of measures to try to help with student debt--ranging from the "gainful
employment rule" to income-based repayments.
Fundamentally, the point of the bill was to make it harder for people to discharge debts in bankruptcy. Biden's view was that this was a good idea, and Warren's was that it wasn't.
Source: Vox.com on Elizabeth Warren's "The Two Income Trap"
, May 6, 2019
Free tuition at community colleges & state universities
"Community college should be we free and we can afford it," Biden said at the Electrical Workers Conference in April.
Biden also said he supported free tuition at state universities in 2015.
Source: Axios.com "What you need to know about 2020"
, Apr 25, 2019
1970s: outspoken Senate critic of school desegregation
When Joe Biden was a freshman senator in the mid-1970s, his home state of Delaware, like other hotspots across the country, was engulfed in a bitter battle over school busing, debating whether children should be sent to schools in different
neighborhoods to promote racial diversity.
Biden took a lead role in the fight, speaking out repeatedly and forcefully against sending white children to majority-black schools and black children to majority-white schools. He played down the
persistence of overt racism and suggested that the government should have a limited role in integration.
"I do not buy the concept, popular in the '60s, which said, 'We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead
in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race,' " Biden told a Delaware-based weekly newspaper in 1975. "I don't buy that."
Source: Washington Post, "Desegregation," on 2020 Democratic primary
, Mar 7, 2019
College plagiarism was honest (but careless) mistake
[In law school,] by his own admission, Biden was "sloppy and arrogant." He was so casual with his coursework, in fact, that when he wrote his legal papers, he didn't know how to cite articles. This got him in trouble. When a classmate accused
Biden of plagiarizing passages from the Fordham Law Review, the faculty summoned him for an explanation. "The truth was, I hadn't been to class enough to know how to do citations in a legal brief," he later confessed.
He DID cite the Fordham Law Review in his paper, but technically, you're supposed to cite the original source every time you use a quote. He didn't. It seemed to be an honest (but careless) mistake, and the dean exonerated him, writing that "in
spite of what happened, I am of the opinion that this is a perfectly sound young man." (Soon the issue was forgotten, until it would later make a damning cameo in a presidential election..)
Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p. 26-27
, Oct 24, 2017
$500M for businesses partnerships at community colleges
Vice President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis today announced that the Administration is making another $500 million available to create and expand innovative partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train workers
with the skills employers need. This funding is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training grant program.
"This new round of funding will help community colleges forge new partnerships with local businesses
to train workers with the skills they need for jobs available right now," said Vice President Joe Biden.
This program complements President Obama's broader agenda of helping every
American have at least one year of post-secondary education and will help reach his goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
Source: Press Release: Availability of $500 Million for Partnerships
, Feb 24, 2012
$500M for Race to the Top's Early Learning Challenges
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development. Secretary Duncan and Secretary
Sebelius also challenged the broader innovation community--leading researchers, high-tech entrepreneurs, foundations, non-profits and others--to engage with the early learning community and to close the school readiness gap.
States applying for challenge grants will be encouraged to increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and disadvantaged children, design integrated and transparent systems that align their early care and education programs,
bolster training and support for the early learning workforce, create robust evaluation systems to document and share effective practices and successful programs, and help parents make informed decisions about care for their children.
Source: Press release: $500 Million for Race to the Top
, May 25, 2011
No Child Left Behind was left behind
BIDEN: I hope we’ll get back to education because I don’t know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind is the money was left behind, we didn’t fund it.
PALIN: You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving.
Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. We have got to increase the standards. No Child Left Behind was implemented. It’s not doing the job though.
We need flexibility in No Child Left Behind. We need to put more of an emphasis on the profession of teaching. My kids as public school participants right now, it’s near and dear to my heart.
Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin
, Oct 2, 2008
Hire more teachers and pay them for smaller classes
You don’t need a doctorate to know there’s four things everybody out there knows we have to do. Every parent knows it intuitively. Got to start kids to school earlier, got to put them in smaller classes.
In order to do that you need 100,000 more teachers, but you’ve got to pay teachers. The pay’s not competitive, and lastly you’ve got to provide access to college, and that costs money. And we can easily pay for it. It’s about our priorities.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate
, Dec 13, 2007
Laid out a $30 billion plan over five years for education
An excellent teacher should be judged by whether or not that teacher outside of the classroom improves themselves and their teaching skills. My wife got two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree. That’s merit pay. She went out and she gathered this
additional knowledge, not just being a good teacher. Here’s the problem with simple merit pay, based on the principle. Who makes the decision, based on merit pay? There should be teaching excellence. We should demand more of our teachers in continuing
education and participation after school and in school. But you’ve got to pay them. The idea you start teachers at $28,000, in most states, where, in the countries we’re competing with, they start off and they graduate their graduating seniors are
getting the same pay that engineers are getting in those same schools. I’ve laid out a $30 billion plan over five years to 16 years of education is what our kids need. They need to start two years earlier and be guaranteed two years after school.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada
, Nov 15, 2007
For longer school day & school year, & 16-year minimum
I proposed it in 1987. We should go to school longer. We should have a minimum 16 years of education. We should be focusing on the socioeconomic disadvantaged, mostly minorities in inner cities. That’s something we’ve ignored. We pay no attention to it.
We pretend they’re the same circumstances as every other kid in America. They start off with half. Half of the education gap exists before they set foot in the first classroom. That should be the focus.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University
, Oct 30, 2007
$3000 tax credit for college for anyone earning under $150K
Q: Since education is a great equalizer, shouldn’t a college education be free?
A: Absolutely, positively, unequivocally. As president, that’s what I would push for. The idea that 12 years of public education is sufficient in the 21st century is
ridiculous. I have a thing called a college access program. I would allow every single solitary family making up to $150,000 to be able to have a refundable tax credit of $3,000 per student. Everyone under $50,000 now qualifies for a Pell Grant.
I would change them from $4,300 to $6,300 plus the refundable tax credit. It would mean every child in America, every qualified person in America, under an income under $50,000 would have $9,300 to go to any state university in their state in
America for four years. But we have to change our mind-set here, and lead with early education, with pre-Head Start and Head Start. The whole Biden plan for starting early and college as well, that whole plan costs less than $18 billion a year.
Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate
, Sep 13, 2007
There needs to be performance-based pay for teachers
Q: What about merit pay for teachers?
A: The one thing any teacher can tell you is that the last person you want to judge your performance, is the administrator of the school. That’s the first thing everybody figures out if you teach. There needs to be
performance-based pay. The way to do it is start at the front end. Pay those people who perform in undergraduate school. Give them the alternative to be able to go. They’d get the same pay as an engineer gets to go in and work as a math teacher, or as a
science teacher. So you start performance-based pay by, in fact, paying the best- performing students who want to teach and give them a chance. Every other major country in the world is starting these students at the same salary as they start their
engineers. We should be able to do that. My father used to say, “Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget.” If you, in fact, value education, then it should be equally as important as engineering or anything else.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week”
, Aug 19, 2007
Teach sex ed in schools; including prevention methods
Senator Biden supports comprehensive and age appropriate sex education that includes science based prevention methods.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire
, Aug 9, 2007
Sent kids to private school after death of their mother
Q: Do you send your kids to public school or private school?
A: My kids did go to private schools, because right after I got elected, my wife and daughter were killed. I had two sons who survived. My sister was the head of the history department.
She was helping me raise my children at Wilmington Friends School. When it came time to go to high school when they had come through their difficulties--I’m a practicing Catholic--it was very important to me they go to a Catholic school.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC
, Jul 23, 2007
Overcome racial achievement gap with early education
Q: In 2006 the unemployment rate of black high school graduates was 33% higher than the unemployment rate for white high school dropouts. To what do you attribute this inequity?
A: One of the things that we all talk about is this achievement gap. We
should remind everybody that the day before a black child, a minority child, steps into the classroom, half the achievement gap already exists. The moment they walk into that school, they are already behind.
And that gap widens. And it widens because
we do not start school earlier. We do not give single mothers in disadvantaged homes the opportunities that they need in order to know what to do to prepare their children.
You’ve got to start off and focus on the nurturing and education of children
when they’re very young, particularly children from disadvantaged families. You’ve got to invest in starting kids in preschool at age four. And you’ve got to make sure you have smaller classrooms & better teachers in the disadvantaged schools.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University
, Jun 28, 2007
Pay teachers more to get better educational results
Q: Compared to Japan, China & India, we have fewer young people getting science & engineering degrees. How are you going to reverse this brain drain?
A: Change the fundamental way we educate our children. There’s two things everyone knows: the smaller
the class size, the better the outcome; and the better the teacher, the better the outcome. In those very nations named, a teacher makes as much as an engineer. If we want the best students in the world, we need the best teachers in the world.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC
, Apr 26, 2007
FactCheck: Japan pays teachers more, but not India & China
Biden may have made an overbroad claim about teacher pay. Asked why China, India & Japan have more students than the US pursuing degrees in science & engineering, he said: “In those very nations, a teacher makes as much as an engineer.” Perhaps that’s
true, but his campaign couldn’t document it fully. Biden aides cited an article from a 2005 issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine saying, “In Japan, teacher salaries are comparable to those of engineers.” But the story makes no mention of China or India.
Source: FactCheck on 2007 South Carolina Democratic debate
, Apr 26, 2007
NCLB needs more resources, but also is fundamentally flawed
Q: What do you plan to do about No Child Left Behind? Do you believe that this issue is simply one of never having provided the resources to carry out the original mission of the program or are there other fundamental flaws inherent in a program with so
much emphasis on teaching to the test?
A: Both. I sleep with a teacher every night -- my wife. She taught high school -- had three remedial classes and two advanced classes. Those kids in the remedial class went from sixth grade to
10th grade, and they were still penalized. Those kids in the advanced class, she didn’t have to do a thing with. They passed the test. There is something fundamentally wrong with it. And we’ve underfunded it by about $70 billion. We know the
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada
, Feb 21, 2007
- Classrooms are too big; we need smaller classrooms, period.
- A lot of teachers are going to be retiring. We need a program where we attract the best and brightest students coming out of our colleges to be teachers, and pay them.
Princeton was last Ivy holdout to admit women & minorities
SEN. BIDEN: I want to set the record straight on Princeton. Many of us are perplexed by your answers regarding CAP, the organization. The thing that puzzles me is that it was, I thought, a pretty widely known debate that in the Ivys, the one last
holdout, fighting to not admit as many women and fighting not to admit as many minorities, was Princeton. And there was a whole battle over it, as you heard referenced in terms of the Wall Street Journal and mailings to alumni. When you listed CAP, was
part of your rationale for listing that on the application that you thought that would appeal to the outfit you were applying to, the people looking at your resume?
ALITO: Well, Senator, as I’ve said, I don’t have a recollection of having anything to
do with CAP. So all I can say is that I put it down on the ‘85 form and, therefore, I must that been a member at around that time. By the time I entered Princeton, there were many minorities in my class. It went coeducational while I was there.
Source: Sam Alito Senate Confirmation Hearings
, Jan 11, 2006
I oppose school busing because it fails, not for racism
Q: What is your stand on busing?
BIDEN. I oppose busing. It's an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. I took that position--along with Howard Brown, a black candidate for mayor--long before the 1972 election; we were the
only Democrats on record as opposed to busing. I've gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment. The unsavory part about this is when I come out against busing, as I have all along, I don't
want to be mixed up with [people like Alabama Governor] George Wallace. I don't want anybody to give me credit for sharing any point of view George Wallace has. There are some people who oppose busing because they are racist, but the vast majority of
the American people--the people of Delaware--oppose it because busing doesn't accomplish its goal. We should be concentrating on things other than busing to provide for the educational and cultural needs of the deprived segment of our population.
Source: People Paper (Newark DE) interview in Congressional Record
, Oct 2, 1975
Single statewide school district tax, for equal distribution
Q: You say the "New Left" doesn't want school busing; so where did it come from?
BIDEN. It has come from the courts primarily, from people who were appointed during the 60's, at the height of the civil rights activist movements. The thrust at
that time was to force integration, to eliminate racial identities. It was probably a necessary first-step then, and I would probably have shared that viewpoint, had I been around then. So what we have now is a court-administered system that is ten or
twelve years behind what I believe is accurate, rational thinking. There are other things besides busing that we should be addressing to deal with these problems. For example, during my campaign I went on record in support of a single statewide school
district tax, and I got clobbered for it. Well, if we'd done that, we wouldn't have to be talking about busing now; it wouldn't even be an issue. We would have undercut the argument about equal distribution of educational benefits.
Source: People Paper (Newark DE) interview in Congressional Record
, Oct 2, 1975
Joe Biden on Voting Record
Voting for No Child Left Behind was a mistake
Q: Everyone else on this stage who was in Congress in 2001 voted for No Child Left Behind. Would you scrap it or revise it?
It was a mistake. The reason I voted for it, against my better instinct, is I have great faith in Ted Kennedy, who is so devoted
to education. But I would scrap it--or I guess, theoretically, you could do a major overhaul. But I think I’d start from the beginning. You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need to start kids earlier. It’s all basic.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC
, Jul 23, 2007
Voted YES on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".
To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act;
Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010
; vote number 2005-279
on Oct 27, 2005
Voted YES on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.
To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment;
Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010
; vote number 2005-269
on Oct 26, 2005
- $2.5 billion for targeting grants to local educational agencies
- $2.5 billion for education finance incentive grants
Voted YES on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.
Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding;
Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18
; vote number 2005-68
on Mar 17, 2005
- Restore education program cuts slated for vocational education, adult education, GEAR UP, and TRIO.
- Increase the maximum Pell Grant scholarship to $4,500 immediately.
- Increases future math and science teacher student loan forgiveness to $23,000.
- Pay for the education funding by closing $10.8 billion in corporate tax loopholes.
Voted YES on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors.
Vote to authorize a federal program aimed at reducing class size. The plan would assist states and local education agencies in recruiting, hiring and training 100,000 new teachers, with $2.4 billion in fiscal 2002. This amendment would replace an amendment allowing parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
; vote number 2001-103
on May 15, 2001
Voted YES on funding student testing instead of private tutors.
Vote to pass an amendment that would authorize $200 million to provide grants to help states develop assessment systems that describe student achievement. This amendment would replace an amendment by Jeffords, R-VT, which would allow parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
; vote number 2001-99
on May 10, 2001
Voted YES on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction.
Vote to reduce the size of the $1.6 trillion tax cut by $448 billion while increasing education spending by $250 billion and providing an increase of approximately $224 billion for debt reduction over 10 years.
Bill H Con Res 83
; vote number 2001-69
on Apr 4, 2001
Voted YES on Educational Savings Accounts.
Vote to pass a bill that would permit tax-free savings accounts of up to $2000 per child annually to be used for public or private school tuition or other education expenses.
; vote number 2000-33
on Mar 2, 2000
Voted YES on education savings accounts.
This Conference Report approved tax-sheltered education savings accounts.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)36; NV)5
Reference: H.R. 2646 Conference Report;
Bill H.R. 2646
; vote number 1998-169
on Jun 24, 1998
Voted NO on school vouchers in DC.
This legislation would have amended the DC spending measure, imposing an unconstitutional school voucher program on the District.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)58; N)41; NV)1
Reference: DC Appropriations Act;
Bill S. 1156
; vote number 1997-260
on Sep 30, 1997
Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education.
Vote to retain a provision of the Budget Act that funds abstinence education to help reduce teenage pregnancy, using $75 million of the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program.
Bill S 1956
; vote number 1996-231
on Jul 23, 1996
Voted NO on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer.
Cut off federal funds to school districts that deny students their right to constitutionally protected voluntary prayer.
; vote number 1994-236
on Jul 27, 1994
Voted YES on national education standards.
Approval of national education standards.
Status: Bill Passed Y)71; N)25; NV)4
Reference: Goals 2000: Educate America Act;
Bill H.R. 1804
; vote number 1994-34
on Feb 8, 1994
Rated 91% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.
Biden scores 91% by the NEA on public education issues
The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:
To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education."
The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003
Page last updated: Mar 11, 2020