Where Kamala Harris Stands on Education

She and Joe Biden once publicly disagreed on the subject.

Election day, good ol' November 3, is closer than you think. As voters, we'll start to hear more and more from each of the candidates—current President and his VP Donald Trump, and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his VP Kamala Harris (opens in new tab)—about what their stances are on healthcare (opens in new tab)abortion (opens in new tab), immigration, gun control (opens in new tab), and of course: education.

Despite Biden and Harris working closely now, the pair have clashed in the past on some critical aspects of education policy. While you could wait to hear what Harris has to say at the vice-presidential debate (opens in new tab)—or you know, just scroll through Twitter—we're doing the hard work for you ahead of time. Here's exactly where Harris stands on education, and the ways in which she's evolved over time.

Where Harris stands on free college:

When Harris was running for President, at a rally in Oakland, California (opens in new tab), she stated that if elected she wanted to make community college free and four-year public college debt-free. She also wanted to establish universal pre-K.

"I am running to declare education is a fundamental right, and we will guarantee that right with universal pre-K and debt-free college," said Harris.

Harris has also backed Hawaii Senator Brian Schartz's 2019 Debt-Free College Act. (opens in new tab) This bill would allow participating states to get a dollar-for-dollar match from the federal government for the funding they disburse for state schools. It would mean that those state schools would have to commit to helping students pay for the full cost of college by using need-based grants to help students stay out of debt. Think of it like the tuition-free idea Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (opens in new tab) has speaking about for years, but debt-free. Currently, Schartz and Harris are two of nine senators that support this bill.

presidential candidate kamala harris takes campaign bus trip across iowa

Harris speaking at a Teacher Pay Roundtable at a middle school in August 2019.

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan)

Where she stands on teacher salaries:

When she was running for President, Harris' plan to increase teacher pay became hugely popular. Her proposal was to raise the average salary of teachers by $13,500.

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When Biden announced Harris as his VP pick, the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten noted how important Biden's decision was to educators everywhere. In a press release (opens in new tab), Weingarten wrote that Harris "is deeply devoted to making life better by improving our public schools, strengthening our voting rights, and protecting the rights of working people to organize."

Where she stands on student loan forgiveness:

More recently, Harris has supported the $10,000 loan forgiveness plan (opens in new tab) that many Democrats, including her running mate Biden, have supported. She previously had her own loan forgiveness plan that set out to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans for certain groups. The plan received criticism (opens in new tab) over being too narrow, which explains why she shifted gears in the past couple of weeks.

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Harris and other senators have recently called (opens in new tab) for improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by adopting items from the What You Can Do For Your Country Act (opens in new tab). This would mean that anyone who has used as a federal loan or federal repayment plan could receive partial forgiveness after five years instead of the usual ten.

According to the bill summary (opens in new tab), it "allows borrowers to contribute a shorter, but still meaningful, period of public service and to ensure they can still receive a benefit from giving back."

Harris and Biden have clashed on the subject.

In June 2019, Harris clashed with Biden's opposition to court-ordered busing for school desegregation at a debate. She said, (opens in new tab) "There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me."

In the next debate, she noted that a majority of schools in the U.S. are segregated by race and socioeconomic status. She said to Biden: "Had I been in the United States Senate at that time, I would've been completely on the other side of the aisle, and let's be clear about this: had those segregationists their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate. So on that issue, we could not be more apart."

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Bianca Rodriguez
Bianca Rodriguez

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.