While Mr. Trump has emphasized low infection rates among children, Mr. Biden has also stressed concerns for educators. During one of the debates, after Mr. Trump accused him of wanting to keep the country locked down, Mr. Biden mocked the president: “All you teachers out there, not that many of you are going to die, so don’t worry about it.”
Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, said Mr. Biden’s approach to the reopening debate illustrated his understanding that “no school system budget has a line item that says, ‘coronavirus.’”
Ms. Pringle noted that Mr. Biden had always been a strong supporter of the labor movement and said she was proud that he had also “leaned in” to the association’s playbook. She said the president-elect was particularly excited by the union’s vision to “reclaim public education as a common good and transform it into something that it’s never been — which is a system that is racially and socially just and equitable.”
“He’ll take the slings and arrows for being ‘too close’ to us, and he’ll be able to say, ‘Not only did they help me get elected, they help me lead in a bold way,’” she said.
Union leaders top speculative short lists of contenders to be the next education secretary and will undoubtedly influence Mr. Biden’s choice. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Lily Eskelsen García, a past president of the National Education Association, are among the names mentioned.
Other names include superintendents of districts like Baltimore and Seattle, and Representative Jahana Hayes, Democrat of Connecticut and a former National Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Weingarten said that she was honored by the mention, but that she would be “really happy to work with the Biden administration as the president of the A.F.T.”
“The Biden-Harris administration has the potential to enable a renaissance in public education,” she said.