Joe Biden Auditions Before AFT Audience


Long time senator and vice president during the Obama Administration, Joe Biden unveils his education plan before an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) audience.  Katie Glueck has the story in the New York Times.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday released the first major policy platform of his campaign, a sweeping education proposal that urges federal investment in low-income schools, supports universal prekindergarten and higher teacher pay, and, he added in a public appearance later, opposes for-profit charter schools.

But in keeping with his more moderate tendencies, the education plan also focused on priorities that are widely accepted in Democratic circles, appearing to stop short of the bolder promises from some of his campaign rivals and skirting entirely a number of the more controversial issues in education policy.

Mr. Biden’s campaign introduced the proposal ahead of a town hall event in Houston on Tuesday evening with an influential teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers, which represents an important Democratic-leaning constituency and a coveted endorsement for Democratic presidential candidates.

He received a warm introduction from Randi Weingarten, the group’s president, who called Mr. Biden “our North Star” in the Obama administration and later praised his plan as “the kind of muscular investment we urgently need to meet the needs of America’s kids, their families and their educators.” The plan also earned praise from the president of the National Education Association, another powerful teachers’ union.

In the proposal circulated by his campaign, Mr. Biden called to triple the funding for Title I, which directs money toward schools with high populations of low-income students. The campaign also said that Mr. Biden would move to require school districts to put those funds toward “competitive salaries” for teachers and educators, at least in part.

In his proposal, Mr. Biden said he would promote diversity in schools by re-implementing guidance issued by the Department of Education during his time as vice president, as well as by providing grants for school districts that pursue diversity efforts. That does not go as far as a proposal from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has advocated funding “school transportation to help integration, ending the absurd prohibitions in place.” Mr. Biden was an opponent of busing, as the technique is known, when the issue came to the forefront in the 1970s.

Mr. Biden pointed to closing some tax loopholes and limiting deductions when he turned to discussing payment for his proposals, and he also said that some of his plans, like free community college, could offer economic benefits like increasing the gross domestic product.

His campaign’s written proposal did not touch the issue of charter schools, a fraught question in the Democratic primary. But asked about for-profit charter schools by an attendee at Tuesday’s town hall event, Mr. Biden replied that he did not support federal funding “for for-profit charter schools, period.”

The crowd applauded.