The administration is likely to prioritize the immense backlog of loan forgiveness claims that the Trump administration let pile up, and the denials of assistance the department has issued to students who claim they were cheated by their colleges, according to officials familiar with the plans. Among the thousands of students awaiting relief are those who attended Corinthian Colleges, a now defunct for-profit college chain that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sued as attorney general of California.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but it will be nice to know there’s an education secretary who’s thinking about how to protect students from predatory schools instead of the other way around,” said Aaron Ament, the president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, which has sued the department for its rollbacks of loan forgiveness and consumer protection rules.
The team Mr. Biden has named to help the Education Department through the transition signaled the direction he intends to take.
Leading the team is Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Learning Policy Institute, who also oversaw the education transition for Mr. Obama in 2008. Ms. Darling-Hammond, a veteran researcher and policymaker in arenas like desegregation, school finance and teacher preparation, was considered a contender for Mr. Biden’s secretary of education, but took herself out of the running, saying she was committed to her work in California.
The transition team’s strong representation from former Obama-era officials and teachers’ unions has been met with mixed reactions.
Keri Rodrigues, the president of the National Parents Union, which represents low-income parents and parents of color, said the composition of the team made her worried that the Biden administration might stack the government with people who are “interested in fortifying the status quo that has been failing so many of our kids.”
“This is the biggest table right now,” she said of the transition team, “and I don’t see parent groups, family groups, community groups present.” She added, “It seems we’re back to the same old, ‘We’re going to do things to you, not with you.’”