What Top Education Issues Should The Presidential Candidates Address Heading Into November? Experts Weigh In

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Jennifer Nuelle Contributor
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While critical topics like inflation, immigration and the economy have been a consistent flashpoint ahead of November’s presidential election, one equally important issue has been left largely untouched by candidates seeking the highest office in the land — education.

The two presidential candidates, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, were not asked a single question during a recent debate on the plethora of issues facing America’s education system, including yawning gaps in student performance on standardized tests and LGBT ideology in the classroom. Pessimism over the current state of the U.S. education system has grown in recent years, with 42% of Americans saying they’re “very dissatisfied” in 2024, up from 30% in 2015, according to a Gallup poll. (RELATED: ‘Throwing Chairs, Biting, Hitting’: Kids Born During COVID Lockdowns Reportedly Having Serious Issues In School)

Crippling student debt and the federal government’s role in addressing it, the current administration’s bid to overhaul Title IX, the Biden Department of Justice’s (DOJ) targeting of parents who protested at school board meetings and LGBT ideology in schools are all essential issues that the presidential candidates should address, education experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We have a real crisis in public education and education in general in America,” Tina Descovich, co-founder of Moms For Liberty, told the DCNF.

School boards have emerged as key battlegrounds in the ongoing culture war, with parents raising concerns over transgender policies, masking, Critical Race Theory and other hot-button issues.

In 2021, amid the fervor over these issues, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists and called for the usage of various statues, including the PATRIOT ACT, to shield school boards from supposed threats of violence.

Five days after the letter was sent, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to “use its authority” against parents who either threaten or act violently towards public officials in a memorandum. The attorney general’s letter cited a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

“The teachers unions do not care to have parents involved, even though their leaders have admitted that some of the greatest indicators of student success is having parental involvement, and so it’s important to have parents in the driver’s seat, and we wish to hear presidential candidates speak about that,” Descovich said.

America’s massive student loan crisis also wasn’t mentioned during the debate. Nearly 19 million Americans haven’t forked over a single cent to toward their student loan debt.

“I think that they should discuss the federal role in higher education, and in particular, student aid and student debt, because that is a problem that needs to be dealt with,” Neal McCloskey, director of the CATO Institute’s Center for educational freedom told the DCNF. “The reason I was surprised it didn’t come up, though, is because obviously, the Biden administration has been working very hard to cancel huge amounts of student debt.”

The Biden administration has devised multiple schemes to wipe away student loan debt, which have been struck down by the Supreme Court as well as lower courts. In 2022, the administration proposed a plan to cancel student debt for nearly 40 million Americans, canceling up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for non-Pell Grant Recipients, but the Supreme Court shot down the program in a 6-3 ruling.

Shortly following the Supreme Court’s decision, the administration proposed the SAVE plan in April, which would limit student loan repayments to 5% of a borrower’s monthly income from the limit of 10%. Federal judges in Missouri and Kansas blocked parts of the administration’s plan from taking effect.

“Title IX certainly also should be discussed, because you have the federal government making a lot of rules for basically schools of different of all different levels across the board, about how they treat people and categorize people based on especially gender or sex, and how are those defined,” McCloskey told the DCNF.

The Biden administration has also sought to redefine the protections laid forth in Title IX, altering the rule to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” The rule change has spurred numerous lawsuits across the land, with many plaintiffs securing significant victories in federal courts.

Several states have been victorious in their bids to block the rule change. Federal judges in Kansas, Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky all blocked the rule with supporting states on the lawsuits.

Trump-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty referred to the rewrite as an “abuse of power” and a “threat to democracy.”

“There are serious issues that the next administration will need to address — namely, the Biden administration’s attempt to rewrite Title IX to include gender identity,” Alex Nester, investigative fellow for Parents Defending Education told the DCNF in an email.

Schools’ transgender policies have also been a flashpoint in the wider education debate, with one case making its way to the Supreme Court, which it refused to hear. The case involved a challenge to a Maryland school district policy that kept information from parents about their child’s “gender identity.”

In April, Parents Defending Education filed a lawsuit against the Summit school district for allegedly using “affinity groups,” racially discriminating against parents. It was argued that the school district attempted to deter parents who were not members of certain ethnicities from participating in the affinity groups.

“The ongoing destruction of meritocracy in our education system is another issue that parents are rightly concerned about. It is vital for the next administration to refocus the Education Department’s attention to teaching kids rather than pushing political ideologies on them,” Nester told the DCNF.

The Biden and Trump campaigns did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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