The National Education Association (NEA)—the largest labor union in the country—on Saturday endorsed Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president.
The 3 million-member union formalized the endorsement with a vote by the board of directors, according to a press release.
“Joe is the tireless advocate for public education and is the partner that students and educators need in the White House,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement. “He understands that we have a moral responsibility to provide a great neighborhood public school for every student in every ZIP code.”
The union announced the endorsement as the field of Democratic candidates narrowed to two viable contenders: former Vice President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The union says it chose Biden because voters in the primary election, which already took place, favor the former vice president over other candidates.
Bidens wife, Jill Biden, is a teacher and an NEA member.
The union is vocally opposed to President Donald Trumps current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, primarily because of her support for education vouchers, which would allow parents to use the taxpayer funds already allocated to their children to pay toward education in a private school.
In a statement, Biden said he is honored by the endorsement.
“Together, we are going to beat Trump, replace Betsy Devos, and appoint a Secretary of Education that parents, students, and educators deserve: someone who has worked in a public school classroom,” Biden said in a statement.
The NEA had expressed support for Bidens education plan, which includes universal taxpayer-funded pre-kindergarten. According to one estimate, providing subsidized, but not universal, pre-K would cost an estimated $140 billion per year—more than five times the total current federal and state spending on early childhood care.
Bidens proposals come with an estimated $850 billion price tag over 10 years. The proposals include tripling Title I spending for schools with higher concentrations of students from low-income households; federal infrastructure spending for public school buildings; and covering the cost of schools compliance with federal requirements for teaching students with disabilities.
Biden also opposes charter schools, which receive public funding but are privately operated. A study released last year showed that charter schools outperform public schools in both reading and math scores in terms of cost efficiency.
Biden has also proposed $750 billion in spending of taxpayer money for education beyond high school.
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