Emma Newman staff writer
Over the last four years, Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration made a mockery out of the public education system. With a new administration, the Department of Education, led by the soon-to-be-confirmed Miguel Cardona, could restore its reputation and lead to small but significant change for students in BHUSD.
DeVos has been infamous for her advocating for school choice, which diverts money from public schools and sends them to private schools. Her actions, possibly spurred by her complete lack of experience in the public education system – or any education system, for that matter – led to public schools being ignored for four years. With a new administration, funding will almost certainly increase for public districts such as BHUSD.
Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy agrees with this sentiment, and he thinks the Biden Administration could lead to great improvements.
“I’m so excited because I feel like public education has not been part of any priority at all in the last four years,” Bregy said. “We had somebody in there that had no educational background…[which] has placed us in a difficult position where we have to catch up. I think that there’s going to be a lot of good things that happen with public education.”
Not all changes that will happen will be monetary, though. In addition to her fight for school choice, DeVos increased protections for those accused of sexual assault.
While Title IX, which is active in every school in the country, makes some effort to combat sexual violence, DeVos’ changes protect the accused to a greater degree, in addition to making sexual harassment a term that is less-encompassing. These changes had the potential to discourage students in the district from coming forward with their stories, which could have had the side effect of increasing sexual violence in BHUSD.
However, the Obama-era version of Title IX included no such provisions, so it is safe to assume that a Biden Administration would restore Title IX, in many ways, to its original form, which has the power to increase accountability for abusers and prevent sexual assaults from happening within the district.
The most noteworthy effects of a new administration relate to COVID-19, though. Trump repeatedly advocated for schools to reopen without any obvious precautions to protect students and faculty, as many schools in the south and midwest have. DeVos encouraged this behavior, stating it wasn’t part of her job to regulate the spread of the virus in districts.
With four more years of the Trump administration, the lax approach of the Trump administration could have led to unsafe reopenings of schools, not just in conservative areas, but in many other parts of the country, including Beverly Hills. Even more likely is that, due to a lack of government regulation, the district would have been forced to stay remote until the virus was under control.
President Biden could change all of this with his new five-step roadmap to reopen schools nationwide. Unfortunately, this plan does not include the reopening of high schools, as most experts believe that younger students should be an educational priority over teenagers. Nevertheless, these efforts will help the elementary and middle schools, creating a generation of properly prepared students who will later attend Beverly.
Even if there are some delays to reopening the district in its entirety, the Biden administration will help students in one crucial way: by keeping them safe. While former President Trump cared more about returning to normal than about the health of students and faculty, President Biden has shown time and time again that his biggest priority is keeping people from harm’s way, even if it means waiting until COVID-19 is less of a threat before reopening schools.
While this caution may not be enjoyable, it is a positive sign for the district, as it means that whatever happens, students will not be in danger. Therefore, when the time comes to return to in-person classes, students in the BHUSD will be strong enough to recover from a lack of in-person learning.
A new secretary of education and a new president will not fix every problem that the students of the district will face, nor will it undo all of the damage of the previous administration. However, with competent leadership and a plan for improved education, the district will be in much better shape.