When Joe Biden took office last January, many expected a return to “normal” – at least a democratic version of it. After all, Biden was a Senate veteran and an establishment insider. Anyone wishing to predict their early political priorities could reasonably have looked back on the Obama and Clinton administrations. However, Biden has taken a firm progressive stance on a wide variety of issues, particularly those relating to young people. Perhaps most importantly, the administration will begin with one Monthly payment of up to $ 300 per child in low- and middle-income families – a move that will benefit 88 percent of children and lift millions out of poverty.
So what is Biden’s curriculum? Despite promises to invest heavily, he doesn’t seem to have any.
In education, we’ve seen the Joe Biden many skeptical progressives have come to expect. Instead of going down a new path, the government has abandoned the weary playbook of the centrist administrations of George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama. For three decades, the prevailing neoliberal consensus has been that schools should act as mechanisms for level playing field in an unequal society. Students may arrive at different levels of readiness, but they could all leave on a “level of competence” – that is, if schools and teachers are held accountable for their performance. At the heart of this strategy were standardized, high-stakes testing promoted by the George W. Bush administration No Child Left Behind Act and held by the Every student is successful under President Obama. And although many had hoped for a delay in this second spring of the pandemic, the first educational move by the Biden government was Mandate review. In education, it seems, the new boss is the same as the old boss.
This formulation of the purpose of education – as a cure for inequality – goes back half a century. Signing the landmark Elementary and Secondary School Act In 1965, Lyndon Johnson produced a useful fiction to sell a political compromise to the American people. In contrast to many other industrialized countries that decided to build the welfare state in the second half of the 20th century, the United States had only a moderate appetite for redistribution. Johnson waived compensation and instead suggested investing in “opportunities”. Proclaim Johnson made it clear that education was the “only valid passport for poverty,” that no one would receive alms – and no one would have to sacrifice. Instead, schools would be the performance-oriented ground on which benefits would be earned – where the self-made people would pull themselves up by their boots.
Although both parties advocated the idea that the United States could raise its way out of poverty, the center Democrats most fervently embraced it. In the face of stagnating wages and rising inequality, the answer has always been more, or better, education – an approach taken by Bill Clintons Mantra that “what you earn depends on what you learn.” This thinking reached its climax under Barack Obama. If schools don’t level the playing field, it must be because teachers didn’t work hard enough, bad schools stayed open, or parents had no choice. His government, in turn, stepped up attacks on unions, accelerated the closure of underperforming schools and ushered in a new era for charter schools.