Education News

Media response to NEA forum reflects prominence of education in Election 2020

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:

Jonathan Martinez, a reporter from KPRC 2 Houston, was impressed by the enthusiastic delegates at the #StrongPublicSchools forum.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

4 responses to “Media response to NEA forum reflects prominence of education in Election 2020

  1. This is my third NEA RA. I was very impressed with all 10 candidates as they are pro public education. I believed it wasn’t their message to us but it was our message by our presence that was heard by them. If we can go through 160 New Business Items as well as other items in 4 days to debate, and pass those items. Then purhaps congress can learn from us!!

  2. So proud of the NEA for the inclision of this very important event. We, all of the locals, state, national chapters can effect the change for education. We have done it in the past, we can do it again. We Will do it again.

    1. What an incredible experience it was to be at the NEA Representative Assembly in Houston and have 10 presidential candidates speak to our amazing teachers and ESP’s. I was so impressed by the many answers to how education was going to be helped and also on several issues our country is facing.

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