Opinion Blog


Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Federal Opinion

Blessings and Best Wishes, President Biden

By Rick Hess — January 19, 2021 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Around noon tomorrow, President-elect Biden will take the oath of office and become President Biden. Along with millions of others, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, I’m skeptical of many of the policies that the Biden administration promises to pursue. Indeed, he’s not yet president and I’m already concerned about his proposed $1.9 trillion relief package. But living in a free nation means that sometimes you get your preferences and sometimes you don’t. That’s the deal.

Here’s what is more important: Tomorrow, a man who has long made it clear that he respects and understands the obligations of the presidency will take the office. Biden has exhibited maturity and grace in handling an unprecedented transition made perilous by his unpresidential predecessor. He has nominated officials who generally strike me as experienced, sober, and responsible figures. And he promises a much-needed change from the small, wretched man who has inhabited the White House these past four years.

Even in normal times, Inauguration Day is a time to set aside policy quarrels, honor our institutions, and be thankful for the democratic legacy we’ve inherited. This year, after the events of the past few weeks and months, it’s much more than that. It’s a reminder that our institutions are only as strong as we are, and that self-government rests on the civility and responsibility of the citizenry.

In the months to come, I suspect I’ll take issue with plenty of what President Biden’s administration seeks to do. But, as always, I will seek to do that with respect. I will do my best to presume that Biden and his appointees mean well, even on those occasions when I deem their actions misguided. I will say so when I think they are being hypocritical or deceptive, but I will try to do so without impugning their motives or their character.

It was President Lincoln, on the occasion of his first inauguration, 160 years ago, who allowed, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

There will be plenty of fierce debates and bitter disagreements ahead. So be it. That’s a topic for another day. Today, I just want to take a moment to offer President-elect Biden my best wishes and hope that the next four years are blessed ones for him and our unkempt but dogged republic.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Proven Strategies to Improve Reading Scores
In this webinar, education and reading expert Stacy Hurst will provide a look at some of the biggest issues facing curriculum coordinators, administrators, and teachers working in reading education today. You will: Learn how schools
Content provided by Reading Horizons

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Citing Educator and Parent Anxieties, Senators Press Biden Officials on Omicron Response
Lawmakers expressed concern about schools' lack of access to masks and coronavirus tests, as well as disruptions to in-person learning.
5 min read
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, testify at a Senate hearing about the federal response to COVID-19.
Greg Nash/Pool via AP
Federal Miguel Cardona Should Help Schools Push Parents to Store Guns Safely, Lawmakers Say
More than 100 members of Congress say a recent shooting at a Michigan high school underscores the need for Education Department action.
3 min read
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the residence of parents of the Oxford High School shooter on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the Crumbley residence while seeking James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP
Federal In Reversal, Feds Seek to Revive DeVos-Era Questions About Sexual Misconduct by Educators
The Education Department's decision follows backlash from former education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other conservatives.
4 min read
Illustration of individual carrying binary data on his back to put back into the organized background of 1s and 0s.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Federal Biden Administration Lays Out Its Top Priorities for Education Grants
The pandemic's impact and a diverse, well-prepared educator workforce are among areas the administration wants to fund at its discretion.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Aug. 5, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a White House briefing.
Susan Walsh/AP