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

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
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
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
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
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

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 Miguel Cardona in the Hot Seat: 4 Takeaways From a Contentious House Hearing
FAFSA, rising antisemitism, and Title IX dominated questioning at a U.S. House hearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7 in Washington.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Federal Arming Teachers Could Cause 'Accidents and More Tragedy,' Miguel Cardona Says
"This is not in my opinion a smart option,” the education secretary said at an EdWeek event.
4 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal Opinion Should Migrant Families Pay Tuition for Public School?
The answer must reflect an outlook that is pro-immigration, pro-compassion, and pro-law and order, writes Michael J. Petrilli.
Michael J. Petrilli
4 min read
Image of a pencil holder filled with a variety of colored pencils that match the background with international flags.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
Federal New Title IX Rule Could Actually Simplify Some Things for Districts, Lawyers Say
School districts could field more harassment complaints, but they can streamline how they handle them, according to legal experts.
7 min read
Illustration of checklist.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus