Democratic Presidential Candidates Discuss Education Policies At Houston Forum

Ten of the Democratic presidential candidates discussed their education policies at the National Education Association’s annual assembly.

About 10,000 teachers from across the country gathered to watch the Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum as part of the National Education Association's annual assembly.

Roughly 10,000 teachers from across the country gathered at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center to hear 10 of the Democratic presidential candidates discuss their education policies at the Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum.

There were several themes that candidates hit repeatedly throughout the two-hour forum. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledged they would name an educator as the next secretary of education. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said they’d ban federal funding for for-profit charter schools, and multiple candidates called for universal, free pre-K.

But the discussion ranged beyond strictly educational topics. Sen. Kamala Harris pledged executive action on gun control to protect students if Congress failed to send her a bill within the first 100 days of her administration.

Other candidates who spoke at the forum included: former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tim Ryan.

Held as part of the National Education Association's annual assembly, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García moderated the forum, and members of the national teachers union submitted questions for the candidates.

Prior to the forum, teachers at the event told News 88.7 they wanted to hear about basic education issues like class size and national policy matters.

Christina Medina, a teacher from Colorado, said she was interested in hearing the candidates discuss immigration issues.

When I think of my students in my classroom — I work with a predominantly Latino population — and so the first thing that comes to mind is immigration,” she said. “So I want to hear their ideas on immigration reform, especially considering some of my students are concerned about their parents or other family members being deported.”

It's the second time that Democratic presidential candidates have stopped in Houston for a high-profile campaign event in recent months. In April, eight Democratic candidates spoke at the She the People Presidential Forum at Texas Southern University.

Though no Democrat has won Texas in decades, Harris County is a top draw for candidates seeking money, according to The Houston Chronicle. The paper reports that in 2012, Houston-area donors gave $14 million to Democrats — that number almost doubled in 2018, reaching $27 million.


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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