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Legislative Update

What’s Ahead for Education

By Jodi Peterson

Posted on 2020-11-16

Linda Darling-Hammond to Lead Education Transition Team

Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor emerita at Stanford University,  president of the California board of education, and the founder of the Learning Policy Institute, will head the Education Transition Team for the new administration.

Darling-Hammond, who was considered a leading candidate for Education Secretary position but took herself out of contention, will oversee the incoming Biden administration’s efforts to staff the Education Department and make plans to implement Biden’s education agenda.

Other members of the Biden Transition Team can be found here.

So what’s ahead for education under the new Biden Administration? Biden has promised to nominate a former classroom teacher as ED Secretary. During the campaign he has pledged to triple Title I funding, increase supports for students, including school psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers, and create universal prekindergarten.

In Biden's plan for re-opening schools, he calls on Congress pass a $30 billion emergency package to ensure schools can reopen safely and called for an additional $4 billion to upgrade technology and broadband. The plan also calls for national guidelines for reopening based on the level of viral spread in a community; decisions of when to reopen schools would be left to state, local, and tribal officials. 

FY21 Appropriations and COVID Relief Funding

The Senate has released their funding bills for FY21 and negotiations are underway with the House to determine federal funding for fiscal 2021, which began on Oct. 1 and runs through September of next year. Congress passed a continuing resolution in September (H.R. 8337 (116)) that will keep the government open until December 11. The Senate education funding bill can be found here.

The Senate Republican bill provides $73.2 billion in discretionary funding for the Education Department, a $433 million increase over current levels and below the $73.5 billion level House Democrats approved earlier this year. Both bills reject the Trump Administration’s request to eliminate programs such as Title IV, Afterschool programs, and teacher training grants under Title II. Highlights:

  • $1.25 billion for Title IV-A, which would be an increase of $40 million from FY20 ($1.21 billion) and $30 million more than the House's proposed level of $1.22 billion
  • $16.4 billion for low-income schools under Title I, a $125-million increase from last year, but less than the $254 million proposed by House Democrats.
  • $13.7 billion for special education, an increase of $125 million but less than the $254 million increase proposed by House Democrats.
  • Increase funding of $10 million for charter schools, bringing the program to $450 million. House Dems propose decreasing funding for charter school by $40 million.

It is unclear if the Democrats and Republicans will come together to negotiate further COVID-19 relief. House and Senate Democratic leaders said they plan to continue asking for a $2 trillion coronavirus relief measure, which was quickly rejected by Republican leaders in the Senate.

There is more than $1.5 trillion between the latest Senate proposal and House Democrats’ bill to fund COVID relief. The Senate plan slates $70 billion for education, while the bill passed by the House Democrats provides for about $175 billion. Stay tuned.

Save Education Jobs Act of 2020

NSTA was one of several organizations to support the Save Education Jobs Act, which will save almost 4 million jobs, spur economic growth, and help to mitigate the lasting impacts of students’ learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was recently introduced in the House, read more here

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Reports.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communications, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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