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NEA News

NEA Recommends President Joe Biden as Democratic Nominee for Re-election

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris lead the most pro-public education and pro-union administration in modern history, said NEA President Becky Pringle.
Biden at NEA
President Biden at the National Education Association in Washington, DC in September 2022.
Published: April 27, 2023

On April 26, NEA President Becky Pringle announced that the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country, is recommending President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as the Democratic nominees for re-election.  

During his term, Biden has made huge financial investments in public education, pushed the effort to relieve educator debt, and made strides toward safer communities and schools for children across the country. Biden, Vice President Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden—an educator and NEA member—have also worked tirelessly to amplify educator voices. 

“In 2024, the future of our students, our public schools, and our democracy are on the ballot,” Pringle said. “President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are tireless advocates for public education, proving time and time again that this is the most pro-public education and pro-union administration in modern history."

"They have partnered with parents and educators to strengthen public schools and expand learning opportunities for all students—Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native, newcomer, LGBTQ+, or differently-abled, from rural, suburban, and urban communities alike,” Pringle said

Investments in Public Education 

On March 11, 2022, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, setting aside nearly $170 billion for public schools. The School Rescue Funds have made history as the largest investment in education funding, making major contributions to the stabilization and improvement of American schools. 

ARPA also dedicated funds to a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, providing more than $14 billion to colleges and universities. A majority of this money has been distributed through higher education institutions to students directly, so that they can pay for tuition, housing and other necessities. However, colleges and universities have also used the money to erase debt and pay staff. 

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Florida A&M University has received nearly $200 million. In 2022, the NEA-affiliated faculty union negotiated for pandemic rescue funds to be spent on faculty salary raises.  

“All HBCU faculty get paid, on average, well below what similar faculty get paid at predominantly white institutions,” said Roscoe Hightower Jr., a FAMU business professor. “'We have no money.' That’s the common line. When ARPA came through, that shut the ‘We have no money’ completely down.” 

Hightower explains that with advocacy from the union, ARPA funds provided each member with a recurring raise of $2,431, explaining, “Funding from the ARPA set up all types of opportunities for all HBCUs.” 

In Erie, Pennsylvania, the Erie Public School district received $90 million in federal relief funding. With help from the ARPA, Erie Public Schools are working to expand their community school initiative.  

In 2016, Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School adopted the community schools model. With help from a local church and the United Way of Erie County, the school created a basic needs pantry, providing families with access to food, clothing, hygiene products and other supplies. They also implemented mental health services, accessible to students and families.  

A local educator, Donna Wall, told the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA)’s Voice magazine, “A community school becomes a hub where resources from the community are used to improve student success.”  

Erie Public Schools and the United Way developed a plan to introduce the initiative into every Erie school. An influx of federal funding made their plan a possibility, allowing the district to create five more community schools in the district, providing the necessary support to allow children to excel academically.  

“Educators innately want to help but oftentimes the barriers getting in the way are things that educators do not have control over,” said Wall. “A community school offers support and resources so that we can do what we do best, focus on educating our students.” 

Educator Relief  

In October 2021, Biden's Department of Education announced a limited-time waiver under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Over 360,000 educators and public service workers received $24 billion in student loan forgiveness through the limited PSLF waiver.  

Greg Cechak, a sixth-grade reading and language arts teacher from Pennsylvania, faced $40,000 of student debt before his loans were forgiven under PSLF in January of 2021.  

Cechak told PSEA's Voice magazine, “I remember I checked the app and it said, ‘Loan paid in full.’ I had to look at that probably for about two or three minutes. It happened to be right before homeroom. Kids were starting to come in. I went into the hallway, and I went, ‘Woo!’ real loud.”  

cancel student debt

On May 5, 2022, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona invited eight educators to a round table discussion on the PSLF program. One of those educators was Cechak. At the time, he represented less than 1 percent of people who applied and were forgiven on their first try.  

“Secretary Cardona and his staff, I feel very confident in saying, are tirelessly making sure they can correct any and all mistakes that happened previously. I feel like with the previous administration, there was a goal to dismantle it,” said Cechak. “They’re going to fight like hell to make sure this doesn’t go away and to do everything they can for the educators of the United States.” 

Safer Communities 

On June 25, 2022, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. 

This legislation was the first major gun safety bill to be passed by Congress in over 30 years. Though there is still change to be made, the signing of this bill is a representation of possible change to come.  

Alana Rigby, an aspiring educator from Florida and an anti-gun violence advocate explained that, “our legislators still have a lot of work to do to make our (Florida) communities safer.” 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's permitless carry bill into law on April 3, 2023. Firearm owners no longer have to undergo training or a permit to conceal carry in public, a huge setback in efforts to make communities and schools safer.  

safe schools

As disappointing as setbacks on a state level have been, Rigby explains that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was evidence of change that could be made.  

“It gave me hope,” said Rigby. “I think especially as an aspiring educator and being so young… It was interesting to see that they are finally listening.” 

Easing School Staff Shortages

The educator shortage crisis has deeply impacted public education nationwide. Low pay and disregard have deterred many from pursuing or continuing a career in education.  

The Biden administration has worked to ease this shortage by expanding support for states looking to start and grow union-led teacher apprenticeship programs as a sustainable solution.  

With the Biden administration’s support, if a state follows the teacher apprenticeship program guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidelines and register their programs, they can receive funding from Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I.  

These teacher apprenticeship programs serve as training programs for new teachers. Unlike most existing programs, aspiring educators earn a living wage while gaining essential skills for the future. One example is the Classroom Academy Apprenticeship program. 

teacher apprenticeships

“I honestly don’t think I could have gone back to school to become a teacher without this program,” says Cheryl Libutti, an aspiring educator and a part of the Classroom Academy. “And I know that many others in my apprenticeship cohort would say the same.” 

With an annual stipend of $22,000, plus $5,000 annually in tuition assistance, Libutti says she has gained skills in the past two academic years she would not have earned in a traditional student teaching role, which typically only lasts three to four months.  

To support their teacher apprenticeship programs, some states have utilized American Rescue Plan funding or ESSA Title II money. President Biden’s support of expanding such programs is a necessary and sustainable step in easing the educator shortage.  

Creating a Lasting Impact 

As the Biden administration continues to work toward a better, safer and stabilized Public School system, they strive to make educator’s feel heard and seen. Additional achievements and voice amplification include the following:    

  • President Biden and Vice President Harris have worked toward building an administration reflecting American diversity. Biden replaced Betsy DeVos with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  

  • He appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Through these efforts, schoolchildren can see their identities reflected in the people who hold our nation’s highest positions of power as confirmation that their dreams are within reach.  

  • Both President Biden and Vice President Harris have addressed the NEA Representative Assembly, invited memebers to the White House, and expressed their support and gratitude for American educators.  

  • The Department of Labor inducted Andrea Beeman, an Education support professional and an NEA member into the U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honor on behalf of all ESPs to highlight their essential role in school operations. 

  • The administration announced its support for a path to universal school meals at the White House Conference on Nutrition, Hunger and Health. 

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.