Houston (CNN)Former Vice President Joe Biden is unveiling a set of education policy proposals Tuesday that would increase funding for schools in low-income areas, help teachers pay off student debt and double the number of health professionals working in schools.
It comes at the start of a stretch of Biden’s candidacy in which he and his aides have said he’ll roll out policy proposals. He has also said he will soon offer a detailed approach to combating climate change.
A fact sheet provided by the campaign calls for the tripling of federal Title I funding for schools that serve low-income areas — closing what his campaign called a $23 billion funding gap between majority white and non-white school districts. That, his campaign said, would allow schools to increase teacher salaries.
The plan would prioritize competitive pay for teachers, access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and districts offering rigorous coursework. After those, Biden’s plan would leave it to school districts to identify their biggest needs to address with the remaining funding bump.
Biden’s plan also calls the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program — which discharges federal student loan debt after 10 years of payments — to be “fixed” and “simplified” so that it “actually helps teachers.”
And it calls for new funding to help teachers earn additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education and bilingual education, as well as funding mentorship programs.
Biden’s campaign did not offer details on how much the plan would cost overall, or how he proposed to pay for it.
Biden’s plan also aims to address what his campaign says is a massive shortage of health professionals — psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses and social workers — in schools by doubling the number of those employees. It does not explain the mechanisms through which he would do so.
The plan identifies other priorities for increased funding, including:
increasing efforts to recruit minority teachers
grants to help school districts diversify their schools
building new school buildings and improving existing ones
expanding “community schools” that connect parents with doctors and other support their children need
allowing Pell grants to be used for dual-enrollment programs that allow high school students to take community college classes
launching a new competitive program that would reward innovative approaches to high school education in low-income areas
dramatically increasing funding for schools to support children with disabilities.
In the plan, Biden pledges to “defeat the National Rifle Association” and enact gun control measures.
“In the months ahead, he will release additional proposals to address the gun violence epidemic in our country,” the plan says.
The rollout came in the same city one of Biden’s rivals, California Sen. Kamala Harris, unveiled a 10-year, $315 billion plan she said would increase the average teacher’s salary by $13,500 per year.