By Danielle Sklarew
On Friday, 10 candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for the presidency participated in NEA’s Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum in Houston to define their visions for public education before an audience of more than 10,000 educators and guests.
[Watch the forum in its entirety here.]
Reporters from more than 90 media outlets—including the Washington Post, CBS News, and CNN—covered the event to record and analyze candidates’ responses to questions contributed by NEA members across the country through the StrongPublicSchools.org website.
“As an educator, I see firsthand the difficult issues affecting my students,” said TaRae Gardner, a fifth-grade teacher in Iowa’s Sioux City Community School District. “So when candidates talk about access to health care, mental health services and raising pay checks for the middle class you can bet I am interested in what they are saying. It affects me, my students, and my job directly.”
The press is well aware of the outsized role that educators will play in selecting the Democratic nominee and, ultimately, the nation’s next president. In the 2016 election, 1 in every 39 votes was cast by an NEA member or family member.
Here is how the media captured the powerful interactions that took place between the candidates and NEA members at the Strong Public Schools forum:
RIGHT NOW: National Education Association Presidential forum is under way, over 7,000 excited educators at the GRB ready to hear from 10 Presidential candidates pic.twitter.com/OKOWQaX2BV
— KPRC2Jonathan (@KPRC2Jonathan) July 5, 2019
Jonathan Martinez, a reporter from KPRC 2 Houston, was impressed by the enthusiastic delegates at the #StrongPublicSchools forum.
At the NEA, Bernie Sanders finishes his one-minute opening statement with 3 secs to spare. He’s thrilled. “Going for the extra credit,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia tells him
— Holly Bailey (@hollybdc) July 5, 2019
Each candidate had one minute to deliver an opening statement. Washington Post national political reporter Holly Bailey captured NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia’s response when the first candidate to speak, Sen. Bernie Sanders, finished right on time. The interaction elicited lots of laughter.
Julian Castro gets big round of applause as he tells NEA about being a substitute teacher in San Antonio between college degree and law school.
— Jeremy Wallace (@JeremySWallace) July 5, 2019
Houston Chronicle reporter Jeremy Wallace called attention to the applause earned by former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro as he shared an anecdote about teaching in the same public high school he graduated from.
— Bill Barrow (@BillBarrowAP) July 5, 2019
Associated Press national politics reporter Bill Barrow tweeted Vice President Joe Biden’s pledge to appoint an educator as Secretary of Education if elected. This commitment was echoed by several subsequent candidates. Read Barrow’s account of the forum here.
.@ewarren also says Democracy is under assault, adding there’s a chance to turn that around: ‘And that starts with our teachers, our teachers showed us last year when they were on the front lines in West Virginia…’ – Gets standing ovation saying, “Let’s put a teacher in the WH’
— Stephanie Ramirez (@RamirezReports) July 5, 2019
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was once a special education teacher, encouraged NEA members to “put a teacher in the White House,” as documented by Stephanie Ramirez, 2020 campaign reporter for CBS News.
Asked if she would appoint a teacher as education secretary, Amy Klobuchar replies: "I think it's important to have someone with a policy background in education, a teacher is a great idea. But I can tell you what I won't have, and that is I won't have Betsy DeVos" pic.twitter.com/du7vuAFNnS
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 5, 2019
After the forum, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was asked about her new education policy proposal and her views on appointing a Secretary of Education by CNN anchor Kate Bolduan.
— John C. Moritz (@JohnnieMo) July 5, 2019
In his home state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke received warm chants from delegates. The moment was captured by John C. Mortiz, Texas politics reporter for the USA Today network. Read more about the forum in this article written by Mortiz.
Q: How will you ensure students have access to technology to prepare them for 21st century careers?
Inslee: We have the federal government reverse the Trump tax cuts. We take $20 billion away from the oil & gas industry. We put it in education by fully funding Title I.. [WATCH] pic.twitter.com/h52lWgVA5s
— POLITICO (@politico) July 5, 2019
Politico noted Gov. Jay Inslee’s response to a question about preparing students for 21st century careers. Within the answer, he recounts a story about his father, Frank Inslee, a high school biology teacher and coach.
"We should be on the side of educators, not charter schools," De Blasio says at #NEARA19. He has brought up charter schools more than any other dem candidate
— Rebecca Klein (@rklein90) July 5, 2019
Rebecca Klein, senior reporter at the Huffington Post, noted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s strong stance against charter schools.
— The Texas Signal (@TheTexasSignal) July 5, 2019
The Texas Signal tweeted a video of Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan discussing his newly released plan for increasing school funding, which includes large investments in infrastructure and Title I. Reporter Fernando Ramirez documented themes from the forum in this article.
Kamala Harris seemed to be catching her breath as she took the stage at NEA – the moderator said she’d been stuck in traffic and narrowly made it on time. But she brought down the house in the last minute of her remarks with an impassioned call for gun control
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) July 5, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris was a last-minute arrival to the forum due to Houston traffic. Her presence and her message were appreciated by the delegates, as CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck noted.
10 de los más de 20 pre candidatos demócratas a la presidencia del país llegan a #Houston para reunirse con 10,000 maestros de todos Los Estados Unidos. ¿Qué dijeron, escucharon? @TelemundoHou 5pm pic.twitter.com/GlyzB08XrB
— Juan José Rodas (@JuanJoseKTMD) July 5, 2019
The forum was attended by Spanish-language media outlet journalists as well, including reporter Juan José Rodas of Telemundo Houston.
You can watch the NEA Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum in it’s entirety below.