Democrats and Education Policy in 2020

Jeff Bryant writes about the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates and the shift in the national Democratic party on issues like charter schools:

Education has been mostly ignored in previous presidential elections, and the topic had not come up for serious discussion among the candidates in televised debates prior to the Public Education Forum 2020, held in Pittsburgh on December 14. But at an event in which candidates knew they would have to field some tough questions about education issues and be held closely accountable for their answers, most of the leading candidates—including the front-runners—showed up and welcomed the dialogue. Furthermore, the tables were turned on who controlled the dialogue. “How many times have we been dictated to, have we been told to do?” asked American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. Teachers, students, and community organizers who’ve wanted more of a dialogue with political candidates and elected officials have often been “silenced,” Weingarten stated. But what unfolded in Pittsburgh was “a paradigm shift,” she said, because the candidates had to “actually listen” to the folks who inhabit the world that is “the farthest place in the universe,” to use Bennet’s words, from education policymakers in Washington, D.C. The candidates heard that “the priorities of the federal law should be to level the playing field to make sure that kids… actually have the things they need,” she said. “These candidates are listening to us.” The change in heart of Democratic candidates has been a long time in coming.


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