Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives for an event in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. A federal judge on Wednesday allowed the Education Department to move forward with new rules governing how schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual assault. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives for an event in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. A federal judge on Wednesday allowed the Education Department to move forward with new rules governing how schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual assault. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The Biden administration can reverse controversial decisions on how colleges adjudicate sexual assault cases, reopening schools during COVID, and quickly examining fraudulent student loans.

When President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, his administration can reverse many of the controversial policies put in place by current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. 

During her time in office, DeVos prioritized private K-12 schools while often ignoring public schools, which she often portrayed as failures. In contrast, Biden has pledged to bolster public schools and expand preschool so it is accessible for all Americans. He has also indicated that he would overturn a controversial regulation on campus sexual assault put in place by DeVos, which makes it harder for universities to consider accusations fairly.

Biden has also proposed massive spending increases for Title I, a program that aims to help schools in high-poverty areas. He also wants to increase the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools. The Trump administration took the opposite approach, repeatedly calling for massive funding cuts for schools, a move that Congress always rejected.

Here are some details on several DeVos policies that a Biden administration could address or undo:

  • DeVos made controversial changes to Title IX rules, including a rule that allows accused rapists to cross-examine their accusers. The move was widely criticized by universities across the country.
  • Under DeVos, the Department of Education has been nine times less likely than the Obama administration to take on Title IX complaints that are related to sexual orientation or gender.
  • The Department of Education has significantly slowed investigations into allegedly fraudulent student loans. Reports showed that under DeVos, the department had been working against state law enforcement officials and federal regulators from pursuing legal action against loan companies accused of misleading student borrowers.
  • DeVos threatened to cut funding to schools that did not fully reopen in fall 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, while providing little guidance on how to reopen safely.

The president-elect has also pledged to appoint an educator in the top spot at the Department of Education. The transition committee is led by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California State Board of Education. Darling-Hammond was initially considered for the position, but according to the Washington Post she took herself out of consideration last weekend. 

Biden has made it clear that he wants a diverse cabinet, and many of the people he is considering for Education Secretary are people of color. People reportedly under consideration include Tony Thurmond,  California’s state superintendent of public instruction, Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), a former national teacher of the year, and Denise Juneau, superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

Last but not least, Biden frequently says a teacher is coming with him to the White House: his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Biden is an English professor at a community college in Northern Virginia, holds a doctorate and two master’s degrees and is a major proponent of community colleges. She will also bring her own first to the White House, the first First Lady to continue working while in office.