Compare Candidates

The race to the White House is heating up! Here are some of the early candidates and how they stack up in terms of public education.

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
Joe Biden (D)
Sen. Cory Booker (D)
Gov. Steve Bullock (D)
Pete Buttigieg (D)
Julian Castro (D)
John Delaney (D)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D)
Wayne Messam (D)
Beto O’Rourke (D)
Rep. Tim Ryan (D)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I)
Joe Sestak (D)
Tom Steyer (D)
Pres. Donald Trump (R)
Joe Walsh (R)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D)
Bill Weld (R)
Marianne Williamson (D)
Andrew Yang (D)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
U.S. Senate, Colorado

About Michael

  • Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate since 2009.
  • Prior to his initial appointment and then election as Senator, Bennet served as Superintendent of DC Public Schools from 2005 to 2009.

On the Issues

  • It’s time for an “education president.” As the only former public school superintendent running, he believes that “there’s no public good that’s more important than education.” Although his local record included school closures, merit pay, and approving space for charter schools in district buildings, the Senator supports the federal government as a “useful partner” in K-12, rejects private school vouchers, and has stated that public dollars should be reserved for pay[ing] teachers what they’re worth.”

    (Des Moines Register, 2/22/19; Chalkbeat, 5/2/19)

  • Will reverse course so students don’t pay for fiscal irresponsibility. Congress passed a $1 trillion permanent corporate tax cut that the Senator admits “doesn’t reflect a priority of the next generation.” If elected president, he would “repeal … parts of the … tax cut … and combat tax evasion.” These fixes would pay for universal pre-K, free community college, and increases in educator salaries.

    (Vox, 5/29/19; Coloradoan, 5/2/18; The Hill, 9/5/19)

  • Supports the resurgence of unions. The Senator supports protecting and strengthening workers’ right to bargain collectively. He believes in “reversing the decades-long decline in union membership.” If elected president, he plans to “push back against right to work laws… [and] make union dues deductible.”

    (Bennet for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Vowed to reverse the transgender military ban. If elected, he pledges to roll back a policy that he believes is “cruel and discriminatory.” He adamantly opposed “forcing out these brave Americans…simply because of their identity.”

    (PBS News Hour, 5/3/19; Washington Post, 7/28/17)

  • Supports targeted funds for class size. The Senator from Colorado believes in providing resources to reduce class size, but supports efforts that ensure funds are available where they are needed most. He is a cosponsor of the Smaller Class Sizes for Students and Educators Act. Legislation that “prioritizes funding for high-poverty school districts to reduce class size.”

    (Next City, 3/14/19)

  • “Yes, but…” on universal pre-K. When he was asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program,” he responded “Yes,” but “free for low-income families.” However, according to the Senator, if the federal government provides $1 for every $3 from state and local governments, the country could ensure “free preschool nationwide for all 4-year-olds by 2024 and for all 3-year-olds by 2027.” He believes, “If we want equal to mean equal in this country, every child in America must have access to high-quality, free preschool.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports free tuition at all institutions. The Senator has a plan to make community college free immediately through expanded “Pell grants and other financial aid.” Gradually, he would eliminate tuition and debt from four-year institutions. In exchange, his administration would monitor colleges’ “default rates or debt-to-income ratios that are excessive—and … may … [deny] … Pell grants, student loans, and other federal support.” He believes, frankly, “college costs too much.”

    (Bennet for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/5/19)

  • Cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Senator finds existing wage differences between men and women “unconscionable.” In supporting legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act, he believes “everyone, regardless of gender, deserves equal pay for equal work.”

    (Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Senate Press Release, 4/4/17)

  • Obamacare is the foundation for expanded access to healthcare. The senator believes that “it is a disgrace that we remain the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t provide universal coverage.” He proposes that under a Bennet administration, he would offer a new program called “Medicare-X, a public option plan that builds on the Affordable Care Act.” Bennet assures that “individuals will not pay any more than 13 percent of their income on insurance premiums,” and he would request an “authorization of $30 billion over three years for a national reinsurance program to stabilize the marketplace.”

    (Bennet for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/5/19)

  • Supports strengthening Social Security. The senator from Colorado “strongly opposes privatizing or reducing benefits.” He also “opposes private retirement accounts,” and supports “eliminating [the] income cap for payroll taxes” that support the program. He believes that “Social Security is our most successful retirement program and it provides the only path to a secure retirement for millions of Americans.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports tax incentives that improve Americans quality of life. Bennet supports broad tax policies that address climate change, healthcare, and the needs of working families. He proposes “an investment tax credit for… energy storage technology,” a fully refundable child tax credit that would be paid out monthly, and a caregivers tax credit “of up to $3,000.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Opposes for-profit charter schools. When asked on a questionnaire about his positions on charter schools, the senator affirmed that he “supports banning for-profits and increasing accountability.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports professional pay for educators. As the former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, the Senator has a past that includes implementing a “pay-for-performance plan” and unsuccessfully attempting to “require districts to show salary equity across schools before tapping federal funding.” However, the Senator now rails against “Trump’s tax cuts, arguing that the administration could have instead paid for universal pre-K, [and] raised the salary of every teacher in America by 50 percent.” He supports the federal government subsidizing teacher pay, and believes in setting a goal “that every educator in America is compensated with at least the equivalent amount they could earn in the private sector with a comparable level of education.”

    (The Atlantic, 8/29/19; Education Week, 5/2/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Bennet for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/5/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education,” the candidate responded, “no.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Wants to end gun violence with common sense measures. The Senator is opposed to gun licensing, but supports “[requiring] everyone…to go through a background check.” He also supports banning assault weapons.

    (Bustle, accessed 9/2/19; Politico, 8/15/19; The Trace, 8/19/19)

  • Proposes a collection of 21st century updates for schools. The Senator’s education plan includes expanding support for “high-quality early interventions” like home visits, nutrition programs, and family engagement activities. He also supports encouraging greater educator diversity and extending the school day and year. Other student supports his administration would advance include “expanding mental health … resources … [and] promoting … restorative practices.”

    (Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Senate Website, accessed 9/5/19)

Joe Biden (D)

About Joe

  • Joe Biden served as Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
  • Prior to his election to the Vice Presidency, Biden served as Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009.

On the Issues

  • No Child Left Behind was a mistake. Regrets supporting this legislation and favored an alternative that supported his vision: “You need better teachers. You need smaller classrooms. You need to start kids earlier.”

    (CNN, 7/23/07)

  • Invest in free college for all. The former vice president believes in prioritizing tuition-free college and warns that “any country that out-educates us will out-compete us.” Concerning how to fund free college, he assures that “we can afford it.”

    (Brookings Now, 5/9/18)

  • He’s with workers. He supports “laws that allow labor unions to flourish and fight for basic worker protections.” The former vice president also believes in banning non-compete agreements and protecting workers in pay discussions.

    (Vox, 12/18/18)

  • Believes we have to speak out on racial injustice. Sharing that “there’s systemic racism that most of us whites don’t like to acknowledge,” he admits that “I’ve been in this fight for a long time … voting rights … criminal justice system [reform] … I haven’t always been right…. But I’ve always tried.”

    (Biden School of Public Policy & Administration, 1/21/19)

  • Knows that smaller classes work. As a U.S. senator, the former vice president introduced legislation to reduce class size. He believes that small classes should be “one pillar of our education system,” and quotes research that shows small classes “particularly in the early grades, improves student performance.” He understands that “when a teacher is responsible for … 25, 30, or more students, how can we expect each student to receive enough time and attention?”

    (Vote Smart, 10/1/07)

  • Universal pre-kindergarten is a long-term investment. In outlining his plans for a Biden administration, the former vice president has committed to providing “high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year olds.” He believes that “this investment will ease the burden on our families, help close the achievement gap, promote the labor participation of parents who want to work, and lift our critical early childhood education workforce out of poverty.”

    (Biden for President, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Would erase educators’ loans. Biden sees no reason for educators “to worry about how they are going to make their student loan payments while they are busy educating the next generation.” He proposes expanding access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, with special provisions for educators.

    (Biden for President, accessed 9/1/19)

  • It’s been time. Biden laments, “In 2019, it’s past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men.” While serving in the Obama administration, he was involved with passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and advocated for the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation designed to help women who have faced wage discrimination. He also recognizes the “cumulative discrimination black women face due to both their gender and color of their skin” in even wider pay gaps. He believes, “This is a chance to get on the right side of history.”

    (The Hill, 6/16/19; Twitter, 8/22/19; CNN, 7/20/10)

  • Obamacare is a good start. The former vice president does not support healthcare plans that “start from scratch and get rid of private insurance.” His plan for expanding even more access to healthcare would include providing a public option, premium tax credits for working families, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. He explains that “every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

    (Biden for President, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Vehemently opposes privatization. With Social Security funds starting to decline in 2020, Biden supports “raising the payroll tax earnings cap” and taxing the wealthy to help the program. He has said “I don’t know a whole lot of people in the top one-tenth of 1 percent or top 1 percent [who] are relying on Social Security when they retire.” He also supports “letting public sector workers, including teachers who are not eligible for Social Security, to begin receiving pension benefits sooner than the 10 years that many of their plans currently require.” In expanding benefits, he would ensure payments kept recipients above the poverty line, and he also would increase assistance for widows and widowers.

    (CNBC, 7/29/19; The Motley Fool, 5/31/19)

  • Believes Trump tax cuts exacerbate inequality. The former vice president sees “economic inequality … pulling this country apart,” and vows to end special-interest tax breaks and multimillionaire loopholes. Features of his tax plan includs “repealing Trump … tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy… expanding the childcare credit to $8,000 … [and] enhancing tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers who are saving for retirement.”

    (Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Opposes federal funding of charter schools. Biden supports public schools and does not agree with “any federal funding going to for-profit charter schools.” For existing charters, he believes that potential students should not be subjected to admissions tests. When approached about his position on charter schools, he reiterated his support for banning for-profits and increasing accountability.

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports raises, dignity for educators. The former vice president proposes “tripling federal funding for Title I” to help school districts “offer educators competitive salaries.” If elected president, he “will support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve.”

    (Reuters, 5/28/19; Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. Biden finds that “the same people pushing vouchers for schools … oppose[d] subsidizing after school programs … [but were] for subsidizing oil companies.”

    (NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, 7/3/11)

  • Knows how to beat the NRA. Biden believes that to reduce gun violence, the federal government should close gun-show loopholes and “ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” If elected president, he pledges that “I will defeat the NRA again … I’ve done it before—twice.” He previously led Congress to pass background checks “and bans on assault weapons.”

    (Bustle, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Schools need a leader who understands them. If elected president, he has pledged “to appoint a teacher as education secretary.” To support students and ensure their success, Biden proposes doubling the number of health professionals in schools, supporting more community schools, and providing infrastructure resources “to build cutting-edge, energy-efficient, innovative schools with technology and labs to prepare our students for the jobs of the future.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Biden for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

Sen. Cory Booker (D)
U.S. Senate, New Jersey

About Cory

  • Cory Booker has represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate since 2013.
  • Prior to his election to the Senate, Booker served as the Mayor of Newark and on the Newark City Council.

On the Issues

  • Will not disassociate from private school vouchers. In expressing concern that poor children and children of color need an escape from struggling schools, the senator stands by his support of vouchers. He declared that his views “haven’t changed one iota.”

    (Chalkbeat, 2/1/19)

  • Supports investing in high-quality education. The senator introduced the “Supporting the Teaching Profession through Revitalizing Investments in Valuable Educators (STRIVE) Act,” which boosts resources for teacher recruitment, preparation programs, and diversity initiatives. He also supports full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

    (Sen. Cory Booker Press Release, 2/6/18; Sen. Cory Booker U.S. Senate Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Believes unions should be heard. The senator is an original cosponsor of the 2018 Worker’s Freedom to Negotiate Act, which facilitates first contracts between companies and newly certified unions by requiring mediation and arbitration to settle disputes.

    (AFL-CIO Legislative Alert, 6/11/18; Congress.Gov accessed 4/25/19)

  • Every child should have financial support. To address growing income inequality, the senator introduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, which establishes a savings account for every child in the country when they are born. Accounts could provide almost $50,000 for every child.

    (Vox, 10/22/18)

  • Supports smaller classes but with local input. The senator cosponsored the Smaller Class Sizes for Students and Educators Act, which provides funding “for high-poverty school districts to reduce class size.” In allocating resources, the senator believes that “local leaders should make decisions about what works best for them … I believe we shouldn’t have one-size-fits-all education.”

    (Vox, 3/13/19; Next City, 3/14/19)

  • The answer is YES. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program,” the senator responded “yes,” and it should be “free for everyone.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports free tuition at public institutions. The senator led efforts to reintroduce the Debt-Free College Act, which provides matching grants for states to offset tuition and related expenses for students. According to the senator, “higher education is one of the surest paths to economic security and prosperity for Americans, but the astronomical price tag means that ladder of opportunity remains elusive for many students … and low-income students are hurt the most.”

    (Sen. Cory Booker Press Release, 3/8/19)

  • He’s a proud feminist. The senator cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, and enthusiastically admits “to being an unabashed feminist.” He believes that “we all need to be working against gaps in pay for doing the same work.” Despite Congress’ refusal to take up legislation on fair pay, he joined a group of Congressional colleagues in requesting that “the Government Accountability Office … study pay differences between men and women in the federal government.”

    (Time, 4/2/19; The Hill 6/14/18)

  • Supports Medicare for all. The senator believes this “single-payer system would save the American people money by reducing rising healthcare spending and significantly lowering administrative costs.” He also cites expanding access to healthcare as contributing to improving schools. “In communities like mine, low-income communities, this is an education issue because kids who do not have healthcare are not going to succeed in school.” He finds that “the current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with healthcare. It’s all about greed and profiteering.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Sen. Cory Booker Press Release, 4/11/19)

  • Supports expanding benefits. Booker supports increasing benefits, and taxes on those who make more than $250,000 annually. The fixes he supports “would eliminate much of the program’s long-term deficit while paying for benefit increases, including increases in the minimum monthly benefit, a more generous cost-of-living adjustment and extending student benefits up to age 22.”

    (Roll Call, 4/23/19)

  • His tax plan supports urban communities. The senator proposes a plan that includes “a refundable credit for renters” and expansion of the earned income tax credit. To support urban revitalization, he also recommends tightening elements of the Opportunity Zone Program. Booker proposes a carbon tax to raise additional revenue “to reduce income inequality.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • It’s complicated. The senator has been “billed as a leader in the school choice movement,” and he has not shied away from promoting charter schools or vouchers. However, as a presidential candidate, he now says that “I’m a guy who believes in public education and, in fact, I look at some of the charter laws … and I find them really offensive.” Despite past comments in which he envisioned Newark as “the charter capital of the nation,” he now supports banning for-profits and increasing accountability over charter schools.

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 2/8/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports subsidizing pay for educators. When he was mayor of Newark, the senator worked closely with education reform advocates to implement “pay for performance.” As a presidential candidate, he now supports providing educators with additional compensation through federal subsidies. He believes that “we must pay teachers more … and invest in our schools.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/3/19; Chalkbeat, 2/8/19; Cory 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Now he opposes vouchers. As a presidential candidate, when asked “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the senator responded “no.” The response reflects a shift for the senator, who previously expressed his support for vouchers as a means for “children of color … to escape from struggling public schools.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/3/19; Chalkbeat, 2/1/19)

  • Time to track and restrict gun purchases. Booker has a comprehensive plan for reducing gun violence. He proposes creating “a national gun licensing program, banning assault weapons, [and] high-capacity magazines.” For gun manufacturers, he would “allow them to be found liable in civil suits.”

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Bustle, accessed 9/3/19)

  • The candidate has not provided proposals or comments about policies to support 21st century schools.

Gov. Steve Bullock (D)
Governor, Montana

About Steve

  • Steve Bullock has served as Governor of Montana since 2013.
  • Prior to his election as Governor, Bullock served as Attorney General of Montana from 2009 to 2013.

On the Issues

  • Access to preschool gives more students a good start. After securing a federal grant to expand preschool programs in the state, the governor believes “it’s time … [to give] every 4-year-old access to high-quality, early-childhood education.” Although state lawmakers do not support “publicly funded preschool programs,” he remains committed to public preschool in addition to updated school facilities and access to dual enrollment.

    (Ed Week, 5/12/19; Independent Record, 9/24/16)

  • Signed school funding increases into law. As governor, he approved legislation that “rewrites the state’s public school funding system … and increases state funding for schools by $75 million over the next two years.” He believes that “every child … [should have] a fair shot to do better than their parents,” and if elected president, “he will double federal investment in K-12” too.

    (Missoulian, 5/6/13; National Public Radio 5/14/19; Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Stands by workers and their right to bargain collectively. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision, the governor described their action as “unbelievable … overturning 40 years of workers’ rights.” Prior to the court’s decision, his Janus amicus brief stated that “Montana’s collective bargaining system has resulted in numerous advantages for both the state and public employees.” While a gubernatorial candidate in 2012, he pledged “to veto any right-to-work bill if he is governor.”

    (Twitter, 6/27/18; Supreme Court Docket No.16-1466, 1/18/18; Billings Gazette, 9/23/12)

  • Will protect every student’s right to an education. If elected president, the governor will rescind Trump administration policies that “erode our nation’s commitment to Brown v. Board of Education.” He also pledges to “ensure the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will aggressively protect the rights of all students to a public education free of discrimination or harassment.”

    (Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Believes in overall opportunities for students. The Montana governor has not specifically mentioned reducing class size, but has affirmed, “Our most important obligation is to the next generation … to ensure they have more opportunities to succeed than we did.”

    (Education Week, 5/14/19)

  • Supports universal pre-K. Although his efforts to establish a statewide preschool program in Montana were not successful, universal access to pre-K programs remains a priority. He believes that “universal access to voluntary, early childhood education will help prepare children to excel in school and life.”

    (Vox, 7/5/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports free tuition at community colleges. The governor believes that “we must address rising costs and ensure that college loan programs serve the students using them—not the loan companies.” His plan for helping students and families with college costs includes supporting free tuition at community colleges and “reclaim[ing] federal management over student loan initiation in order to lower interest rates and allow for refinancing if interest rates drop.”

    (Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Led state efforts on equal pay. Since “launching the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force,” the gap in earnings between men and women “narrowed” from 66.7% in 2013 to the current 73%. The governor’s task force engaged business and provided wage negotiation technical assistance. He admits that these policies are personal: “I want both of my daughters to know that … ours is a state where they can prosper and be valued for their contribution.”

    (, 4/2/19)

  • Stands by Obamacare. The Montana governor supports the Affordable Care Act, but also supports the availability of a public option. As governor, he has worked to expand Medicaid and has “invested in mental health and substance abuse resources, and added permanent funding for Title X, protecting reproductive rights.” He believes that “access to healthcare should not depend on the size of your paycheck.”

    (Axios, 7/22/19; Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports Social Security—period. The governor believes that “Social Security is a promise that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will have certainty rather than struggle in your senior years.” If elected president, he promises to protect the program, and he has a plan that includes strengthening Social Security overall, creating portable workforce benefits, and addressing the “130 private, multiemployer pension plans at risk of failure in the next 20 years.”

    (Facebook, 3/22/19; Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports tax relief for working families. Bullock opposes the massive Trump tax cuts, and he prefers “expanding tax credits for working families.” He believes in restructuring “our tax code so big businesses pay their fair share” and companies are rewarded for “investing in workers.” He has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate, supporting “a fully refundable child-care tax credit,” and providing tax credits in exchange for businesses that “help employees pay off student loan debt.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19; Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Believes that charter schools need oversight. The governor is opposed to charters “that operate outside the direct control of school districts.” When asked on a questionnaire about his view on charter schools, he responded that he “supports the use of public charter schools as an alternative to traditional systems, provided there is increased accountability.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Educators should have only one job. The governor supports public education and ensuring the educators are sufficiently compensated. He believes “we should make sure that our teachers are paid what they’re worth so that no educator has to take out a second job just to make ends meet.”

    (Shondaland, 7/16/19)

  • Opposes vouchers for diverting resources. The Montana governor believes that public schools need ongoing funding and support. He is concerned that “once you start privatizing,” public schools suffer. He has pledged that he will continue to “oppose vouchers and the privatization of America’s public schools.”

    (Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 9/11/16; Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Grapples with solutions to reduce growing gun violence. The governor contends “the Second Amendment confers rights … they come with responsibilities … they can be forfeited.” He supports red flag laws and the creation of a voluntary buyback program. He believes that “arming teachers is absurd.” For real change, he offers that “he understands gun owners and the culture they fear losing … he has the credibility to speak … without demonizing rural voters.”

    (USA Today, 5/30/18; U.S. News and World Report, 8/7/19; Bustle, accessed 9/2/19; Politico, 8/15/19)

  • Schools need to be outfitted for new technologies and new needs. The governor “was the first … to protect net neutrality [and]… ensure people had internet freedom. He supports “revamping the broadband infrastructure for schools” in addition to dual-enrollment programs. To address students’ personal needs, he supports expanding school breakfast programs and “increasing funding for school-based mental health.”

    (Bullock 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; Axios 7/22/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

Pete Buttigieg (D)

About Pete

  • Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, winning election in 2011 and 2015.
  • At the age of 29 he was the youngest mayor of a city with more than 100,000 residents in the nation.

On the Issues

  • Educators know what they’re doing. The mayor believes that educators need the freedom to do their jobs without the weight of standardized tests. He also values “strong working relationship[s] with teachers,” and compensating them well. The mayor suggests “respect them like soldiers … pay them like doctors.”

    (Notre Dame Magazine, 3/30/12; Breakfast Club Power 105.1, 3/26/19)

  • Not sold on taxpayers footing the bill for free college. While not unfamiliar with student loan debt and the rising costs of college, the mayor is concerned about public financing of college. He grapples with the idea that “a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidize a minority who earn more because they did.”

    (The Washington Post, 4/5/19)

  • Supports working more closely with labor. The mayor acknowledges the energy of the labor movement, and in meeting with them suggests that “Workers … are interested in the same things any American is interested in,” and that staying “in dialogue and working together” is important.

    (13WIBW, 3/3/18)

  • No more “all lives matter.” Admits to not appreciating the full context of this phrase, and has explained “That is the contribution of Black Lives Matter … since learning about how that phrase was being used to push back on … activism … I’ve stopped using it….”

    (The New York Times, 4/4/19)

  • Teacher shortages make an impact. The mayor has not specifically commented on reducing class size, but supports educators. He believes that “too many children are being denied educational justice. From inadequate resources and critical teacher shortages.” His plan for education, called “The Schools of the Future Plan,” would seek substantial additional resources for students at Title I schools.

    (The Post and Courier, 5/1/19; Pete for America, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports universal pre-K. The mayor applauded local efforts that provided additional resources to expand access to pre-K programs. He enthusiastically recognized this progress, in stating, “Looking forward to pre-K expansion funds to benefit kids in our area. Every step towards universal access is progress!”

    (Twitter, 6/28/17)

  • Now he supports debt-free college. Previously the mayor admitted to having “a hard time … with the idea of a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidizing a minority who earn more because they did.” However, he has released a plan for “debt-free college” that supports “completely free” public tuition for lower-income families and “large increases in Pell Grants.”

    (Inside Higher ED, 4/5/19; Pete for America, accessed 9/1/1)

  • Supports gender pay equity. As mayor he recognized and participated in events for Equal Pay Day. When Indiana was officially ranked 47th in the country for fair pay, he admitted that this distinction “is an embarrassment to our country.”

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • Wants the best of both worlds. Although he believes in universal healthcare, “The best way to do that is a Medicare for all who want it.” The mayor’s approach would “take some flavor of Medicare, [and] … make it available on the exchange as a public option.”

    (Pete for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; CNN, 7/13/19)

  • Follow the money. As a supporter of Social Security and its solvency, the mayor proposes to “more than double Social Security’s payroll-tax cap.” In doing so, he would gradually shift more of the financial burden away from low-income recipients. According to him, “I have a very personal stake in making sure that Social Security and Medicare are there when you retire and when I retire, and if you look at the numbers, that won’t happen without some adjustments,” he said.

    (Market Watch, 7/22/19)

  • Tax cuts for the wealthy don’t work. The mayor was not in favor of President Trump’s $1.5 trillion-dollar tax cut “for the wealthy.” Instead, he favors “a wealth tax … eliminating … corporate tax breaks, and more equitable use of the estate tax.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • He’s for public education—period. His vision for the future of education does not include for-profit charters. He believes that “expansion of charter schools … is something that we need to really draw back on until we’ve corrected what needs to be corrected in terms of underfunded public education.” He also has stated firmly that voucher programs “come at the expense of quality public education.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports a pay increase, respect for educators. The South Bend, Ind., mayor proposes “increasing funding for Title I schools … to boost teacher pay.” He believes “we must respect and value our teachers as the essential public servants that they are, and compensate them accordingly.”

    (Pete for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports public education first. The mayor does not support private school vouchers. He believes in focusing and correcting “underfunded public education.” Vouchers, he suggests, “come at the expense of quality public education.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Arming educators is an admission of defeat. Buttigieg opposes proposals that support arming educators. He believes that “it’d be such an enormous condemnation of our country if we were to become the only developed nation where this is necessary.” To reduce gun violence, he supports creating national gun licensing programs and banning assault weapons. The mayor believes eliminating access to these weapons should be a no-brainer, asking, “Since when are American cities and neighborhoods supposed to be war zones?”

    (Axios, 8/16/19; CNN, 8/6/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Wants to support students facing educational injustice. The mayor is concerned about “inadequate resources … critical teacher shortages … [and] discriminatory disciplinary policies.” By substantially increasing funding for Title I schools, he believes that extra resources would be available to address these areas, and also invest “in high-quality … educational programs.”

    (Pete for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

Julian Castro (D)

About Julian

  • Julian Castro was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Barack Obama.
  • He has previously served as Mayor of San Antonio and a member of the San Antonio City Council.

On the Issues

  • Not having access to pre-K is an unnecessary missed opportunity. American children are behind in attending preschool, and some children “never catch up if they don’t get formal schooling until kindergarten.” The former HUD secretary and mayor believes that pre-K programs should be available for “every family in America,” and if he could expand access in San Antonio, he can expand access across the country.

    (The Washington Post, 1/13/19)

  • Time for rededication. Holds state legislatures responsible “for failing to support public education adequately,” and finds “we’ve lost our commitment to public education that made us so strong in the first place.”

    (National School Boards Association Newsroom, 4/9/18)

  • Puts the campaign where his policy is. As a supporter of collective bargaining and an increase in the minimum wage, Castro pays all of his campaign staff at least $15 per hour (including interns) and allows them to form a union.

    (San Antonio Current, 1/25/19)

  • It’s time to get serious about reparations. In addressing the issue of paying reparations to slave descendants, the former HUD secretary believes “if, under the Constitution, we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property?”

    (Politico, 3/10/19)

  • Supports smaller class sizes. The former HUD secretary acknowledges the impact of smaller class sizes for students. In his plan for education, called “People First Education,” he commits that in his administration he would “cut down on class sizes to foster individualized learning.”

    (Julian Castro 2020 campaign website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • It’s personal. As mayor of San Antonio, he expanded access to pre-K programs and financed them with a sales tax. He said that “having more children in high-quality early childhood programs would benefit the city over the long term.” Although the program served less than 10 percent of area 4-year-olds in 2018, the program’s potential served as inspiration for his presidential education platform that now calls for a universal “Pre-K for USA” program.

    (Chalkbeat, 6/13/19)

  • All public institutions should be free. His plan for education calls for a variety of remedies to reduce the costs of college and student debt. Solutions include “ending tuition at all public colleges … increasing access to dual-enrollment programs … and excluding for-profit colleges from federal aid programs.”

    (Chalkbeat, 6/13/19; Inside Higher Ed, 5/14/19)

  • It’s complicated. As mayor of San Antonio, his administration was found to have discriminated against three women by paying them less than their male colleagues, and then retaliating when the women complained. Before leaving the city to join the Obama administration as HUD secretary, he requested “an outside review of pay disparities in the city.”

    (Time, 4/2/19; San Antonio Current, 10/29/14)

  • Supports Medicare for all. The former HUD secretary does not “believe … anybody should go without healthcare or that the profit motive should ever keep somebody from getting the care they need.” Universal access to healthcare is possible “by raising taxes on corporations and on the wealthiest ‘0.05, 0.5 or 1 percent’ of Americans.” He also supports extending healthcare benefits to undocumented immigrants.

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; Business Insider, 8/1/19)

  • The country actually needs more immigrants. Although he has not released any specifics, Castro believes the country needs as many contributors to the system as possible. He has said, “This president is failing us …. Immigrants need to come … beyond the moral argument … it’s because the Social Security trust fund is running out, and without them, Baby Boomers will be broke.”

    (The Atlantic, 7/25/19)

  • Supports taxing wealthy heirs. The candidate has proposed a new “inheritance wealth tax.” It would ensure that wealthy heirs pay their fair share of taxes on inherited wealth. He believes his proposal would also “prevent the concentration of economic and political power.” Data shows that his proposal would affect “less than 1 percent of the wealthiest heirs … yet it would raise over $250 billion in revenue over 10 years.”

    (Julian Castro 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Unclear where he stands on charter schools. Although he attended the ribbon cutting of a public charter expansion event, when given the opportunity to clarify his position on charter schools, the candidate did not respond.

    (National Institute for Direct Instruction, 9/27/13; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports profession, increasing educator pay. The former HUD secretary proposes creating a new federal tax credit “that could boost teacher pay by $10,000 per year.” He believes in the importance of supporting educators so that “the next generation” views the profession as a viable career.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Julian Castro 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Calls out hate-filled gun violence. The former HUD secretary supports banning assault weapons, instituting universal background checks, and restricting high capacity magazines. He also cites the rise in hate crimes as an urgent call to repair “our nation’s weak gun laws [that] enable violent extremism.”

    (Axios, 8/16/19; The Week, 8/9/19)

  • Schools need resources to support students’ diverse needs. Embedded in his plans from education to policing, the former HUD secretary proposes $150 billion to support education technology, and he would ensure the availability of resources to treat lead poisoning. He also would restrict schools from using federal funds to support police officers as “discipline agents,” and he would require schools to participate in “unconscious bias training.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

John Delaney (D)

About John

  • John Delaney formerly represented Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives before announcing his bid for the presidency.
  • Prior to his election, he worked as a commercial banker.

On the Issues

  • There’s a new K -12. The former representative is pushing for pre-K through 14 as the nation’s standard, with 14 referring to two years of community college or technical training. He has pledged to “reinvest in educational opportunities for all,” including making higher education more affordable.

    (Delaney for President 2020, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Money matters. Affirming that “education is the great equalizer,” he supports investments that close funding gaps exacerbated by property tax financing of schools. His plan for education calls for Title I increases and the expansion of grants for community-based organizations that help struggling students.

    (The Root, 4/4/19)

  • Respects labor but sides with management. Despite using a college scholarship from his father’s union, the former representative has introduced anti-worker legislation that allows management “greater power to reassign workers or rely on outside contractors.”

    (The Washington Post, 4/24/17)

  • Wants to address “soft racism.” Shared in a town hall that he is engaging the Congressional Black Caucus to identify the “kind of … institutions in our society that are fundamentally racially unjust….”

    (CNN Transcripts, 3/10/19)

  • Supports individualized learning. According to his plan, “we must prioritize education.” In outlining his priorities, he proposes a “need to update our model to drive more innovation and focus on individualized learning.” He does not mention or make reference to smaller class sizes.

    (Delaney for President 2020 campaign website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Has a plan to pay for universal pre-K. The former congressman is a longstanding supporter of expanding access to pre-K programs. For the country to provide universal pre-K, he proposes “placing a 1.5 percent surtax on Americans earning higher than $500,000.”

    (Business Insider, 8/1/19)

  • Supports removing the weight of student loans. As president, Delaney has pledged to “make higher education more affordable.” Key elements of this plan include decreasing the cost of student loans, increasing grant opportunities for lower-income families, and allowing “borrowers to discharge … student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings.”

    (Delaney for President 2020 campaign website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports efforts to close the wage gap. While serving in Congress, he co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, and he has affirmed that “equal pay for equal work is a core American value.”

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • Believes in universal healthcare. Although the former congressman supports expanding access to healthcare, he is concerned about proposals like Medicare for All. He believes “in everyone making their own decisions.” Under his plan, he affirms that everyone could be covered, “letting the government negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and requiring wealthy Americans to cover part of the cost of their healthcare.”

    (The New York Times, 6/26/19)

  • Opposes privatization. In Congress he pledged, “we must preserve this crucial program for future generations without cutting benefits or making radical and irresponsible changes …. I will defend Social Security and fight any attempts to privatize it.” He has, however, faced criticism for supporting a bipartisan commission that would include Social Security opponents who would prefer to “cut and dismantle” the program.

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; Huff Post, 8/31/17)

  • Supports expanding tax credits for working families. For starters, the former congressman “would roll back tax breaks for wealthy Americans.” He also supports “doubling the earned income tax credit” and “a payroll tax increase to pay for a paid family leave program.” Before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, he worked on Wall Street, and supports additional “tax credits to promote venture capital investments in minority-owned businesses.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Supports charter schools. He has previously stated that “a one-size-fits-all approach to education is wrong.” The candidate believes that charter schools should be “part of the solution.”

    (Network for Public Education Action, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports hiring more educators, but does not mention pay. The former congressman has stated that “we need more teachers.” By raising the capital gains tax, he believes this approach would help “expand the number of teachers.” He does not mention compensation for educators.

    (Rolling Stone, 3/5/19)

  • Has voted for private school vouchers. When the Republican-led Congress voted to reauthorize the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, the congressman voted “yes.”

    (U.S. Clerk of the House of Representatives, 4/29/16)

  • Ready to act on reducing gun violence. The former congressman supports red flag laws to empower families with the ability to protect themselves and the community from someone who poses a threat. He also supports instituting universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and funding “gun violence research.”

    (Bustle, accessed 9/3/19; Delaney for President 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Believes it’s time for something new. The former congressman “believes pre-K through 14 … is the new K-12.” To support this structure, he proposes the creation of “a new Committee of 10.” The group would be assigned to “rethink our basic model of education … [and lead an] update [of] our model to drive more innovation and focus on individualized learning.”

    (Delaney for President 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D)
U.S. House, Hawaii

About Tulsi

  • Tulsi Gabbard currently represents Hawaii’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House.
  • Prior to her U.S. House election, she served in the Hawaii House of Representatives, the Honolulu City Council, and as a company commander in the National Guard.

On the Issues

Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
U.S. Senate, California

About Kamala

  • Kamala Harris has represented California in the U.S. Senate since 2017.
  • She previously served as San Francisco’s District Attorney, and became California’s first female, first black, and first Asian American Attorney General when she was elected in 2011.

On the Issues

  • You get a raise, and you get a raise! Introduced a proposal that would give every teacher a $13,500 raise. “We want the mathematicians to teach math instead of going to Wall Street because they have to pay off their bills.”

    (CBS News, 3/26/19)

  • Time to invest. Believes “we need to make smarter investments in our schools: from teachers and aides to infrastructure and technology.” The senator presses that “one of the biggest indicators for success is how much money actually makes it into classrooms and touches students and addresses their needs.”

    (Vote Smart, 1/1/16)

  • Stands unapologetically with labor. In reference to Janus, wrote that “if a union is required to represent all employees in negotiating for a better workplace, every employee who stands to benefit from those negotiations should share the costs.” The senator also canceled plans to deliver UC Berkeley’s commencement address in support of UC workers who were on strike over wages and health benefits.

    (The Mercury News, 3/7/18; Los Angeles Times, 5/7/18)

  • Ready to speak truth about racism. The senator believes that leadership is required to facilitate the “uncomfortable” conversations needed about race. To her credit, her career has included establishing the “nation’s first open data initiative to expose racial disparities in the criminal justice system” and passing legislation that make lynching a federal hate crime.

    (CNN, 3/9/19; Kamala Harris Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Stands with educators on class size. The senator supports educators and has proposed policies that specifically address “improved student conditions, such as smaller class sizes….”

    (New York Magazine, 3/29/19)

    Cosponsored the Smaller Class Sizes for Students and Educators Act of 2019, which prioritizes funding for high-poverty school districts to reduce class size.

    (Next City, 3/14/19)

  • Universal pre-K is part of a larger solution. The senator from California supports universal access to pre-K programs. She also believes that providing unfettered access to these programs is actually “part of [an] overall package for protecting women’s rights.”

    (Marie Claire, 2/27/19)

  • Supports free tuition and infrastructure improvements. The senator cosponsored the College for All Act and has called for the cancellation of student debt connected to for-profit colleges. She believes “providing relief to students today is critical.” The senator also proposes major investments, including infrastructure and teacher training, at historically black colleges and universities.

    (Forbes, 4/24/19; Kamala Harris for the People Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Recommends a broad approach for fair pay. The senator supports efforts to close the wage gap between men and women, and also places “a particular emphasis on advocating for women of color.” To ensure pay equity, she believes in “advocating for pay transparency, preparing black women for better jobs, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.” She realizes, “the fight for equal pay is far from over.”

    (Teen Vogue, 4/4/17; Time, 4/2/19)

  • It’s KamalaCare. The senator from California supports expanding Medicare and integrating elements of the Affordable Care Act over the next decade by providing “a commonsense path for employers, employees, the underinsured, and others on federally-designated programs, such as Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, to transition.” Her plan would “cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health, and substance abuse disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive healthcare services.”

    (Politico, 7/29/19; Medium, 7/29/19)

  • Supports expansion of Social Security. The senator introduced legislation that would stabilize programs through 2071, while “increasing benefits and cost-of-living adjustments, updating the special minimum benefit for low-income workers and adding student benefits for children up to age 22 of deceased or disabled workers.” According to Harris, “As president, I will oppose any cuts to these vital programs … that provide … greater dignity and peace of mind.”

    (CNBC, 7/6/19)

  • Supports just tax policies. The senator finds “sexism, racism, and corporate favoritism” to be persistent barriers for working families. To help, she proposes giving up to $6,000 in tax credits for “families earning less than $100,000 annually.” Harris also supports “creating a new tax credit for Americans who spend more than 30 percent of their earnings on rent.”

    (Kamala Harris for the People Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Successfully sued a for-profit charter company. When she was California’s attorney general, she “won a multi-million-dollar settlement against the for-profit charter operator K12 Inc.” She also has expressed concern “with expansions of for-profit charter schools and believes all charter schools need transparency and accountability.”

    (Network for Public Education Action, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • She was the first. The senator from California was the first candidate to propose that the federal government should provide the funding to raise teacher salaries “by an average of $13,500.” According to Harris, “our children are being raised by two groups of people: families and teachers. Yet, we fail to pay teachers their value.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Kamala Harris for the People Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. During the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy Devos, the senator warned that “California would be a big loser if Trump and Devos repurpose[d]… education funds … for … vouchers.”

    (Ed Source, 2/7/17)

  • Why wait to reduce gun violence? Harris has pledged that if she is elected president, she “would use executive action for background checks and to regulate gun manufacturers.” She has also criticized the Trump administration’s suggestion about arming teachers in response to school shootings as “ridiculous.” According to the senator, “Supposed leaders … failed to have the courage to reject a false choice … [that] you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The New York Times, 4/22/19)

  • Supports educator diversity. Although progress has been made in placing more educators of color in schools, the enrollment of students of color is on the rise. Anticipating the impact of this trend, the senator proposes “infusing $2.5 billion into teacher preparation programs at historically black colleges and universities.” According to the senator, “we can’t write the next chapter without remembering the last one.”

    (Chalkbeat, 7/26/19)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D)
U.S. Senate, Minnesota

About Amy

  • Amy Klobuchar has represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate since 2007.
  • Prior to her election, she served as county attorney for Hennepin County.

On the Issues

  • Supports making college more affordable. “Student loan debt has spun out of control, becoming a crippling financial burden to many young people and their families. It is time to provide real help … to make college more affordable.” The senator also believes in investing in community and technical colleges, apprenticeships, and STEM programs.

    (Sen. Amy Klobuchar U.S. Senate Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Congress is hurting students by not investing in education. She is an original cosponsor of the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act. The bill prioritizes special education funding and access to quality public education. “Congress has an obligation … to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Act—This bill will ensure that we don’t let our students down.”

    (Sen. Amy Klobuchar Press Release, 4/16/19)

  • Stands with unions and American workers. Criticized the Janus decision, vowing “we’ll stand with American workers and stand up against this attempt to weaken unions.” She is a cosponsor of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which ensure “public sector employees … have the legal right to form and join a union.”

    (Sen. Christopher Coons Press Release, 6/28/18)

  • Believes in a shared dream of opportunity. The senator admits that the country needs to acknowledge the atrocities of slavery, and proposes investing in “those communities that have been so hurt by racism.” She does not believe reparations have to include “a direct pay for each person.”

    (The Hill, 3/17/19)

  • What about class size? As a proponent of public schools, the senator believes, “we … need to make sure all our children can get a great education.” She specifically references the importance of “increasing teacher pay and funding for our public schools, with a focus on investment in areas that need it the most.” Reducing class sizes is not mentioned.

    (Amy for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • “Yes, but …” on universal pre-K. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program?” she responded “yes,” but “free for low-income families.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Nothing is free. The senator maintains a practical approach for addressing “the rising costs of college.” She supports loan forgiveness “for in-demand occupations” and student loan refinance options, but she does not support free college, saying, “I wish … we could afford it.” At most, she supports “expanded Pell grants, and tuition-free one- and two-year community college degrees and technical certifications.”

    (Amy for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19; Inside Higher Ed, 4/5/19)

  • Cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act. In pressing the need for equal pay, the senator emphasizes that “lower wages for women impact them not only while they’re working but also through retirement” and that “pay equity is not just about salaries, but also about giving women equal opportunity to enter male-dominated jobs.”

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • Supports a pathway toward universal coverage. The senator from Minnesota supports universal healthcare coverage, but believes that a public option is needed as the country progresses toward Medicare for All. Klobuchar proposes a practical approach that “would allow states to create public health insurance plans through Medicaid.” She also proposes that “premiums would be capped at a maximum of 9.5 percent of family income.” In addition, she supports new tax credits for caregivers and increased resources for Alzheimer’s research.

    (Forbes, 8/6/19)

  • Social Security should be fair. As an opponent of privatizing the program that “has served as a stable and secure retirement guarantee for generations,” the senator, as president, would “lift the Social Security payroll cap … and improve … benefits for widows and people who took significant time out of the paid workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or sick family members.”

    (Medium, 7/12/19)

  • We need infrastructure not tax cuts. The senator would trade President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment to “create millions of good-paying American jobs.” She has a plan “to rebuild America’s roads and bridges and upgrade other critical infrastructure systems.” She also supports employer tax credits “to boost retirement savings” and “expanding the earned income credit and the child care credit.”

    (Kiplinger, 9/2/19; CNN, 3/28/19)

  • Unclear where she stands on charter schools. Although she opposes private school vouchers, Klobuchar has not articulated a position on charter schools. She has discussed “holding charter schools to ‘high standards.'” When asked about her support for charter schools, the candidate did not respond to questioning, but has offered that “I don’t think you see me focusing on charter schools when you look back on my career.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports a raise for educators. The senator from Minnesota included increases for pay in her proposal for “Progress Partnerships.” Her plan would provide “matching federal funds to states that increase teacher pay.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Communities should not have to live with gun violence. The senator supports banning assault weapons, instituting universal background checks, and restricting high-capacity magazines. She reports that “the gun homicide rate … is 25 times higher than other developed countries,” and she has outlined immediate executive actions she would take “to address gun violence” if elected president.

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Medium, 8/6/19)

  • Supports targeted upgrades for schools. The senator’s “Progress Partnerships” would provide additional resources to “update high school curricula to prepare students for the workforce, and repair school infrastructure in a way that ‘ensures equity.'”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

Wayne Messam (D)

About Wayne

  • Wayne Messam has served as Mayor of Miramar, Florida since 2015.
  • Prior to his election as Mayor, Messam served as a member of the Miramar City Commission from 2011 to 2015.

On the Issues

  • Student debt is destroying the American dream. The idea that that prosperity “starts with higher education” is the hallmark of the mayor’s campaign. To address the more than $1 trillion of student debt burdening millions of Americans, he proposes a one-time cancellation of all federal and private loans. “Debt cancellation as a stimulus,” his plan states, would “boost real GDP [and] create 1.5 million jobs.”

    (Wayne for USA, accessed 5/31/19)

  • Roll back ill-conceived tax cuts to reinvest in education. According to the mayor, the “nearly $2 trillion worth of tax cuts … is a lot of corporate greed.” Eliminating these cuts would open renewed resources so that educators’ salaries would “align with the importance of their work.”

    (90.0 WBUR, 4/9/19; Wayne for USA, accessed 5/31/19)

  • Today’s economy is bad for workers. The mayor has not stated his support or opposition to unions or collective bargaining, but has promised to “bring uncertainty for American workers … to an end, by pushing to make it illegal to shut down the government to score political points.” If elected president, he also “will establish an economic plan to soften the blow of the coming tech advancements on working and middle class Americans.”

    (Wayne for USA, accessed 5/31/19)

  • Believes in triple threat reforms: democracy, voting, and criminal justice. To restore American democracy, the mayor has called for the elimination of the electoral college: “We shouldn’t have a system where a candidate can lose by three million votes and somehow be declared the winner.” In addition, he warns of efforts to reinstitute poll taxes and supports a criminal justice system that celebrates diversity and allows for second chances.

    (Wayne for USA, accessed 5/31/19)

  • Education is an investment. The Miramar, Fla., mayor believes, “We must make smart investments in education …. Education is the great equalizer.” He does not mention reducing class size as an investment.

    (Wayne for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • The answer is YES. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program?” the mayor responded “yes,” and it should be “free for everyone.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Views canceling student debt as an economic stimulus. The mayor supports a one-time cancellation of all student debt “to allow borrowers to begin building wealth at the same pace as their peers not burdened with student debt.” He cites research that confirms that “this approach would provide immediate financial relief, freeing up an average of nearly $400 a month to spend, save, or invest.”

    (Wayne for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • There are no public comments from this candidate on fair pay or pay equity issues.

  • Has reservations about Medicare for All. Although the Miramar, Fla., mayor supports “healthcare [as] a fundamental right—not a privilege,” he has not committed to a position on providing Medicare for All, or a single-payer system. If elected, he offers that he “will be open to ideas to fix a broken system that right now does more to protect the bottom line of insurance and pharmaceutical companies than protecting patients.”

    (Wayne for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • The candidate has no public statements or policy plans for addressing Social Security or retirement benefits.

  • Would repeal Trump tax cuts. The mayor describes the 2017 tax cuts as “disproportionately” in favor of “big business and millionaires.” Instead, as president, he would protect “any canceled student loan debt” from taxable income and proposes “a new payroll tax to help offset the cost of higher education.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Does not support for-profit charter schools. In response to a questionnaire that included positions on charter schools, the mayor responded that he “supports banning for-profit charters and pausing funding for new charters.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports pay increases for educators. The Miramar, Fla., mayor’s plan for education includes increasing teacher wages. He also supports the federal government subsidizing teacher pay.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports solutions that actually prevent gun violence. Messam supports improving background checks and banning assault weapons. As Florida considered legislation that would allow educators to carry guns in schools, he called the proposal “asinine.”

    (Vox, 8/7/19; Axios, 3/30/19; Politico, 8/15/19)

  • Ensure access to STEM. According to the mayor, “when we invest in our schools, we make sure every child can achieve … in this rapidly changing economy.” His plan for education calls for expanding opportunities in career and technical fields and supporting STEM in underserved areas.

    (Wayne for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

Beto O’Rourke (D)

About Beto

  • Beto O’Rourke represented Texas’s 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.
  • Prior to his election to the House, O’Rourke served on the El Paso City Council from 2005 to 2011.

On the Issues

  • Hates “all of this testing.” The former Rep. wants to support educators and “allow them to teach to the child and not to the test.” He says there is too much emphasis on “arbitrary, high-stakes” testing.

    (Education Week, 3/14/19)

  • Against efforts to cut public education. Voted no on legislation that called for drastic cuts to public education, including resources for professional development and class size reduction. He believes in investing “in a world-class pre-K through 12 public education system and … paying our educators a living wage so that they don’t have to work a second or third job.”

    (Beto for America Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Believes that private- and public-sector collective bargaining are not the same. “I’m a big believer in labor’s right to collectively bargain in the private sector.” However, after serving as a city council member, he expressed “[police and firefighters] are not so exceptional that they get to have these contracts and rights that no other city employee enjoy[s] and which the taxpayer cannot continue to finance without the city going broke.”

    (The Intercept, 1/13/19)

  • Realizes it’s time for action. In committing to signing legislation that would study reparations for slave descendants, he admits that civil rights include an understanding of “the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people.” He also has pledged to reverse Trump administration policies that look away from abusive local law enforcement agencies.

    (Bloomberg, 4/3/19)

  • No mention of class size in his education plan. The former Congressman has proposed creating a $500 billion “Permanent Fund for Equity and Excellence.” The fund would provide resources “to drive out disparities in education funding … and focus resources on schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families.” Although he pledges to “make sure that we address the disparity in public education funding,” he does not specifically mention reducing class size as part of these efforts

    (Education Week, 7/24/19)

  • Supports universal pre-K. According to the former Congressman, “every child deserves access to high-quality early childhood education.” If elected president, he pledges to “achieve a system of universal pre-K,” which he affirms “helps to close achievement gaps and returns multiples on every dollar invested.”

    (Beto for America Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19; Politico, 4/15/19)

  • Supports free community college for everyone. The presidential hopeful “wants to ensure there are debt-free higher education options.” His plan for college and student loans calls for free community college, including zero cost and debt-free options for low and middle income students, and providing “public service loan-forgiveness, enabling those working in public service to have 10 percent of their debt forgiven for each year served.”

    (Beto for America, accessed 9/1/19)

  • He stands with the women. While serving in Congress, he cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act. In supporting efforts to ensure pay equity between men and women, he confirmed that “I stand with all women in demanding equal pay for equal work.”

    (Time, 4/2/19; Twitter, 4/10/18)

  • Supports universal healthcare. Instead of weighing in on Medicare for All, the former congressman has proposed “Medicare for America.” His plan calls for “expanding government-run health coverage while keeping employer-sponsored insurance plans.” Benefits under his proposal would include prescription drugs, dental, vision and long-term care. He explains, “if you do not like your employer-based insurance and want to enroll in Medicare, you can. If you have no insurance whatsoever or if you are under-insured … you can enroll in Medicare as well.”

    (CNN, 3/23/19)

  • In his administration, Social Security would be a top priority. The former congressman cosponsored the Social Security 2100 Act, which “would implement increases in Social Security benefits, lower taxes on those benefits, and institute a higher minimum benefit to help low-income seniors.” His plan also includes a caregiver credit. He does not believe that low-income recipients should bear the burden of funding the program. O’Rourke believes “we must bring bold, innovative solutions to make our economy work for every single American.”

    (The Hill, 7/19/19)

  • Fair tax policy starts with repealing Trump tax cuts. O’Rourke has called for rolling back “the worst elements of the Trump tax cuts.” Those provisions include raising “the top personal income tax rate” and increasing “the corporate income tax rate.” He believes in creating incentives for small businesses, allowing “low-dollar campaign contributions” to be tax deductible, and applying revenue from increased corporate taxes toward “two free years of college for everyone.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Opposes for-profit charter schools and supports oversight of public charter schools. Although he once praised charter schools for their ability to “encourage innovation in the classroom,” he believes that they require state oversight. The former congressman does not support for-profit charters, and when asked he confirms that he only “supports the use of public charter schools as an alternative to traditional systems, provided there is increased accountability.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports a new fund for educator pay, including ESP. The former congressman has released a proposal that includes establishing a $500 billion fund “to close spending gaps for districts that serve students of color and increase teacher pay.” His fund also would ensure that education support personnel were paid a living wage. His proposal stands by his support of the federal government subsidizing teacher pay.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Beto for America, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports tracking guns and restricting weapons of war. The former congressman supports creating a national gun licensing program, and he recommends banning assault weapons. The candidate also supports a mandatory buyback program to remove more guns from communities. Concerning the alarming frequency of mass shootings, he admits, “Yes, this is f—ed up.”

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Politico, 8/15/19; Politico, 9/1/19)

  • Schools need a community-based approach. His plan for education includes the creation of a “Permanent Fund for Equity and Excellence.” Of the $500 billion he proposes for the fund, he supports “implementing a community schools model, expanding after-school programs, tutoring, nutrition and health services.” In addition to providing resources “to increase school diversity,” he also would incentivize collaboration time for educators.

    (Beto for America, accessed 9/2/19)

Rep. Tim Ryan (D)
U.S. House, Ohio

About Tim

  • Tim Ryan has represented Ohioans in Congress since 2003.
  • Prior to his election to Congress, Ryan served in the Ohio State Senate from 2001 to 2002.

On the Issues

  • Defines components of a quality education. Describes investments in education as including “advancements in childhood nutrition, after-school programs, technology in schools, … teacher salaries, recruitment and training.” He also supports free college, saying, “College should not only be for the privileged few.”

    (Rep. Tim Ryan U.S. House of Representatives Website, accessed 4/25/19; PBS News Hour, 4/8/19)

  • Supports education over tax breaks. Voted against cuts to education and healthcare to fund massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Believes that investing in public education is part of “building the America we deserve.”

    (Tim Ryan for America Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Opposed Janus ruling. Stated that “I had hoped the Supreme Court would have ruled to protect America’s workers, and affirm that fair-share fees are critical to maintain the bargaining strength of labor unions representing public servants and employees.”

    (Rep. Tim Ryan Press Release, 6/27/18)

  • Believes the nation needs to unite and heal. In recognizing a “quiet revolution” in the country, he stands by protecting marriage equality, pay equity, and supports reviewing reparations for the descendants of American slaves.

    (Rep. Tim Ryan U.S. House of Representatives Website, accessed 4/25/19; Tim Ryan for America Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19; Politico, 4/8/19)

  • Outright supports smaller class sizes. The Ohio candidate supports public schools and has proposed an education plan that “envisions a larger role for public schools in the community.” To realize the potential of public schools, he believes that “resources should also reduce class size.”

    (Des Moines Register, 7/3/19)

  • Not having universal pre-K is an outrage. According to the congressman, “We live in the wealthiest country in the world.” If he is elected as president, his administration would start “with providing universal preschool.”

    (Vox, 5/22/19)

  • Supports free tuition and debt-free options. The congressman is cosponsor of the College for All Act, Debt-Free College Partnership Act, and the Aim Higher Act. These bills provide resources for public institutions to innovate programs and offset costs for low- and middle-income students. According to the Congressman, “College should not only be for the privileged few.”

    (Congressman Tim Ryan Press Release, 7/25/18)

  • Supports equal pay for women. The congressman is proud to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act. If enacted, they would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and institute “remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for equal work.” He describes pay inequity as “unacceptable.”

    (Congressman Tim Ryan U.S. House of Representatives Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • He likes the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All. As a cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act, the congressman from Ohio supports universal healthcare. He also voted for the Affordable Care Act. To further expand access to coverage, he introduced legislation “to create a Medicare buy-in option for citizens between 50 and 64 years old.”

    (PBS News Hour, 4/8/19)

  • Supports the expansion of Social Security and new protections for pensions. The congressman is “committed to stopping those who seek to make cuts to Social Security.” He is an original cosponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act, which expands benefits, cuts taxes for seniors, and contributes to solvency of the Social Security trust fund. Ryan has discussed the devastation of communities when companies fold or leave, so he introduced the “Prioritizing Our Workers Act” to “require that pension benefits owed to workers be honored before other creditors of a bankrupt company are paid back.”

    (The Bridge, 5/31/19; Twitter, 10/11/18; Facebook, 1/30/19; U.S. Representative John Larson Press Release, 1/30/19)

  • High income should equal higher taxes. The Congressman holds that “the biggest myth going is … we’ve got a booming economy.” He supports policies that increase taxes on corporations and “people with incomes over $10 million.” He has proposed “expansion of the earned income tax credit and child tax credit,” and he also would “create tax credits for … grocery stores … in ‘food deserts’ that offer health food in underserved communities.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Supports close oversight of charter schools. The congressman believes in “more accountability for charter schools.” When asked for his position on charter schools, he responded that he “supports banning for-profits and increasing accountability.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Supports well-being, proper salaries for educators. The congressman from Ohio congressman believes in supporting “the well-being of teachers.” He plans to “ensure proper salaries through tax credits,” and also supports the federal government subsidizing pay.

    (The Courier, 7/3/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.” The congressman also voted against reauthorization of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; U.S. Clerk of the House of Representatives, 3/30/11)

  • Addressing mental health and gun access go hand-in-hand. Formerly NRA A-rated, the congressman now supports background checks and has “called for mental health professionals … in every school.” He also supports a voluntary buyback program to remove guns from communities.

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Politico, 8/15/19)

  • Supports community schools. Ryan’s plans for education include a $50 billion investment for establishing more community schools. He believes that “schools should provide students with healthcare, housing assistance, and before- and after-school programs.” The congressman also supports “increasing access to social-emotional learning programs.” He meditates and promotes the practice for classrooms.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I)
U.S. Senate, Vermont

About Bernie

  • Bernie Sanders has represented Vermont in the U.S. Senate since 2007.
  • Prior to his election to the Senate, Sanders served in the U.S. House of Representative and as Mayor of Burlington.

On the Issues

  • College should be free. The country can afford to make community college free and waive tuition at four-year institutions for families earning less than $125,000 annually. In also pushing more student loan forgiveness, the senator believes “higher education is a right.”

    (CNBC, 2/29/19)

  • Wealth should not determine quality education. Public education investments should ensure that there is no difference in schools in wealthy or low-income communities, and he affirms that “I believe guaranteeing resource equity is a core tenet of the federal government’s role.”

    (, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Believes working families are under assault. After the Janus decision, the senator stated that “we must redouble our efforts to make it easier, not harder, to join a union.” Throughout his career, he has supported raising the minimum wage, labor unions and worker co-ops, and policies that give “workers the time and resources to spend meaningful time with their loved ones.”

    (Sen. Bernie Sanders Press Release, 6/27/18;, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Racism fuels systemic violence. Believes physical, political, legal, economic and environmental injustices must be addressed to ensure equal justice for black, brown, and indigenous Americans. Concerning reparations, he supports investing in affected communities versus “just writing out a check.”

    (Sen. Bernie Sanders U.S. Senate Website, accessed 4/25/19; Vox, 3/1/19)

  • Reducing class size is right. The senator believes in the “fight to equitably fund our schools.” His plan for education calls for providing the necessary “resources needed to shrink class sizes.”

    (Bernie 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Equity starts with universal pre-K. According to the senator, it is imperative for the federal government to provide universal pre-K for every child in America. When access to pre-K is widely available, he believes these programs “help level the playing field.”

    (Bernie 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Denounces tax breaks over free college. As the sponsor of the College for All Act, the senator supports waiving tuition at public colleges and capping interest rates on loans. He believes the federal government can afford to help ease the burden of college costs and student loan debt, since “we can give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to people who don’t need it.”

    (CNN Transcripts, 2/25/19; Library of Congress, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports equal pay for equal work. The senator is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act and has included “pay equity for women workers” in his 12-point economic agenda.” According to the senator, “we need pay equity in our country.”

    (Time, 4/2/19; Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senate Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • The OG of Medicare for All. His proposal, to which every presidential candidate refers, “would replace job-based and individual private health insurance with a government-run plan that guarantees coverage for all with no premiums, deductibles and only minimal copays for certain services.” The senator has long believed that “the function of a rational healthcare system is not to make billions for insurance companies and drug companies. It is to provide healthcare to every man, woman, and child as a human right.”

    (Fox 6 TV, 8/30/19)

  • Supports expansion of Social Security. Introduced legislation that would raise “benefits by about $1,342 a year for seniors who make less than $16,000 per year [and] … make all income of more than $250,000 subject to the Social Security payroll tax.” According to the senator, “at a time when more than half of older Americans over the age of 55 have no retirement savings, our job is to expand Social Security.”

    (CNBC, 7/6/19)

  • Wall Street needs to pay up. Sanders has proposed a new 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. His plan “establishes that all Americans are entitled to … a living wage, quality healthcare, complete education, affordable housing, a clean environment, and a secure retirement.” The senator believes that his vision is possible by eliminating tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, “raising taxes on the fossil fuel industry,” and creating “a higher, progressive estate tax.”

    (Bernie 2020, accessed 9/2/19; Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • Opposes the expansion of charter schools. The senator has proposed to pull back on charter schools growth. He supports eliminating federal grants and banning for-profit charters.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Pay educators the salaries they deserve, including higher starting salaries. The senator from Vermont proposes that “teacher starting salaries should be at least $60,000.” He does not understand how “a nation that can pay baseball players hundreds of millions of dollars … can’t afford to pay teachers the salaries they deserve.” Sanders also supports the federal government subsidizing teacher pay.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Twitter, 5/18/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. The senator has clearly expressed his opposition to private school vouchers. He affirms that he is “strongly opposed to any voucher system that would redirect public education dollars.”

    (Network for Public Education Action, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Believes in solutions to end gun violence. Sanders supports banning assault weapons, implementing universal background checks, and restricting high capacity magazines. He says that he is “running for president because we must end the epidemic of gun violence … [and] take on the NRA.”

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Bustle, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Students need equal access to well-resourced and compassionate schools. The senator’s “Thurgood Marshall Plan for public education” includes proposals to triple Title I funding and invest “$5 billion on summer and after-school programs.” He also supports the “end of restraint and seclusion schools” and has pledged that he “would end federal incentives for ‘zero-tolerance’ school discipline policies.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

Joe Sestak (D)

About Joe

  • Joe Sestak represented Pennsylvania's 7th district in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2011.
  • Prior to his political career, he served in the U.S. Navy where he earned the rank of three-star vice admiral.

On the Issues

  • Education is our secret weapon. The former Navy admiral and congressman believes that “education is our best homeland defense.” His plan for education outlines investments that expand access to preschool and finances college and career options. He believes his plan fosters “a skilled population that can out-innovate our competitors and create the jobs of the future.”

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Public schools need resources, not more demands. He believes that public schools are under a great deal of pressure, and that the country “must invest more in their outcome[s].” He has pledged to “ensure that every American can access the high-quality education and skills they deserve.” Specific funding priorities include expanding access to early childhood programs, ensuring the availability of free lunch programs, and creating “a national infrastructure program” for schools.

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/3/19; Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Supports worker protections. In Congress, he voted “YES on restricting employer interference in union organizing.” He also has supported an increase in the minimum wage, enforcement against gender-based pay discrimination, and extending the length of time for unemployment benefits.

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Opposes all forms of discrimination and injustice. The former Navy admiral and congressman candidly “recognize[s] that the color of one’s skin gives certain privileges.” If elected president, he has pledged to fight “white supremacy and white nationalism in all its forms; confront sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, and all forms of bigotry.” In parallel, he also will “address injustices in policing, the courts, and prisons.”

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Does not address class size. The former Navy admiral and congressman supports public education, and has vowed, if elected president, to “work every day to improve our educational … system and ensure that every American can access the high-quality education … they deserve.” Reducing class size is not specified in his plans.

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • The answer is YES. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program?” he responded, “yes,” and it should be “free for everyone.” Sestak believes that “it is time to institute a federal mandate for early childhood education to begin at the age of 4 and to provide necessary funding for states and municipalities.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19; )

  • Supports unprecedented action to reduce college costs. His plan calls for “a fair deal on student debt” and includes providing grants to support tuition at community colleges, tying keeping college costs low with institutional aid, and ensuring the “government no longer makes a profit off students” by re-conceptualizing federal student loans.

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Believes we still have work to do on pay equity. He acknowledges that “for far too long, women in America were treated as second-class citizens.” As president, he pledges to “finally achieve equal pay for equal work … by closing the gender wage gap.” While in Congress, he cosponsored and voted for both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19; On the Issues, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Healthcare is personal and a right. After experiencing “the quality care that the American people provided my family through the military” that saved his daughter from brain cancer, the former Navy admiral and congressman strongly believes that “healthcare is a right, not a privilege.” He supports the Affordable Care Act with a public option, and he believes in allowing “Medicare to bargain for the best drug prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry.”

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes privatization. Sestak rejects calls for privatizing Social Security. Instead, he prefers increasing the program’s taxable income cap and increasing payroll taxes to alleviate the burden of lower-income workers paying into the system. He believes the country needs to take solvency of Social Security seriously, since “the population of elderly Americans [is] poised to nearly double over the next decade.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Believes in a balanced tax policy. He has called on the wealthy to “help level the economic playing field and generate revenue for programs to help middle- and lower-income families.” The former Navy admiral and congressman also supports raising “corporate taxes.” He proposes a series of investment and entrepreneurial tax credits for underserved communities, and he supports restoring the estate tax.

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19; Politico 2020 Dems, 8/19/19)

  • He’s ok with charter schools, but supports oversight. According to a questionnaire that included positions on charter schools, he responded with support “for the use of public charter schools as an alternative to traditional systems, provided there is increased accountability.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Educators deserve an increase in pay. The former Navy admiral and congressman “supports the federal government in subsidizing teacher pay.” He believes that educators should be paid “as professionals,” and when needed, he supports subsidies for pay “in underserved rural and urban schools districts.”

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports real responses for preventing gun violence. Sestak supports renewing the ban on assault weapons and instituting universal background checks.

    (Politico, 8/15/19)

  • Public schools need an update. Sestak supports increasing “broadband Internet connectivity … especially in underserved rural and urban areas.” He also supports a 9-to-5 school day “to give students more time for much-needed sleep.” If elected president, his administration would create a “national infrastructure program” to modernize schools.

    (Joe Sestak for President Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

Tom Steyer (D)

About Tom

  • Tom Steyer is a billionaire and philanthropist who is running for his first political office.
  • He is the founder of the non-profit NextGen America.

On the Issues

  • Education is a right. The activist and billionaire believes that equal opportunity and access to education go hand-in-hand. He challenges the government to “protect the right to a free, quality, public education from preschool through college and on to skills training.”

    (Tom 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Raised over a $1 billion for public schools. After leaving a lucrative career as a hedge fund manager, the billionaire turned to activism full time. In dedicating all of his time to “making America more just,” he also “helped close a massive corporate tax loophole to generate at least $1.7 billion for public schools.”

    (Tom 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Houston, we have a wage problem. Steyer believes that the country “does not have an unemployment problem … [but] a wage problem.” He believes that “one job should be enough.” He supports wrestling the country back from the control of major corporations, and has sided with workers in strikes over pay and working conditions.

    (Twitter, 8/18/19; Twitter, 7/15/19)

  • Will face racism head on. He admits that “institutional racism, discriminatory government policies, and unequal treatment” of African-Americans needs resolution. He acknowledges these policies “have robbed generations … of families.” If elected president, he has pledged to discuss reparations and “direct more resources to monitor, investigate, and prosecute incidents of white supremacist violence as acts of domestic terrorism.”

    (Twitter, 8/15/19; Twitter, 8/20/19)

  • Supports reducing class sizes. The activist and billionaire has offered his support for educators “fighting for better schools.” He applauded the Los Angeles teachers strike, and he endorsed their fight for “smaller classes.”

    (Facebook, 1/15/19)

  • The answer is YES. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program?” he responded “yes,” and it should be “free for everyone.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Educators deserve loan forgiveness. Steyer supports student loan forgiveness for educators and other public service employees. He’s appalled that “America’s hardworking educators” were not granted the student loan forgiveness they were promised. He believes, “we must make student loan forgiveness available to more than 1 percent of applicants.”

    (Twitter, 7/13/19)

  • Admits the country is far from real pay equity. In recognizing Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the activist reflected “on how much work there is left to do.” He acknowledges that “we will not truly achieve equality until we close the gender and racial pay gaps.”

    (Twitter, 8/22/19)

  • The government is responsible for universal healthcare. The activist and billionaire supports the concept and intent of Medicare for All, but believes in the availability of a public option. “I am not in favor of telling 150 million Americans who get their healthcare through their employment, including a bunch of union workers, that by fiat they can’t do that any longer.” “A public option…is so much cheaper and better.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; Tom 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; PBS News Hour, 7/10/19)

  • Appalled that Congress chose tax cuts over Social Security. He described the Republican Congress’ massive tax cuts as a “sucker punch” for Americans. He supports Social Security and blasts Republicans for suggesting program cuts while “golf course owners get multi-million dollar deductions.” He knows that corporations and the nation’s wealthiest families benefit from the Trump tax cuts, and that “average Americans pay for their tax cuts by getting lower Social Security [benefits].”

    (Facebook, 10/18/18; USA Today, 10/22/18)

  • Supports a wealth tax. He believes that wealthy Americans need to “help level the economic playing field and generate revenue for programs to help middle- and lower-income families.” Steyer has proposed instituting a new 1 percent annual wealth tax on the country’s top 0.1 percent of earners.

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19; USA Today, 10/22/18)

  • Candidate has not provided statements on charter schools or related accountability measures.

  • Has not mentioned compensation for educators. The activist and billionaire supports educators, but has not weighed in with a specific proposal or comment on pay. He blasts the “Republican agenda of demonizing teachers, framing public education as a costly burden, and gutting education spending.” He acknowledges that “virtually all our public school teachers spend some of their own pay on school supplies for their classes.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports public education. Although he has not provided specific comments or a position on vouchers, Steyer supports “free public education” and “has endorsed a progressive policy platform in line with Sanders’s and Warren’s agenda.” (Both Warren and Sanders oppose public financing for private school vouchers.)

    (Vox, 7/9/19)

  • Supports real solutions to address gun violence. He supports banning assault weapons and universal background checks. According to Steyer, “the will of the American people is being frustrated … by gun manufacturers through the NRA.”

    (Politico, 8/15/19; PBS News Hour, 8/7/19)

  • Supports more diversity in STEM. He believes that “every American deserves equal access to a quality education.” The activist and billionaire recognizes the impact and opportunities presented by advancements in technology, and as president, plans “to ensure that the faces in our STEM classrooms reflect the faces we see in the world around us.”

    (Twitter, 7/30/19)

Pres. Donald Trump (R)
President, USA

About Donald

  • Donald Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States, his first political office.
  • He assumed office on January 20, 2017 and filed to run for re-election the same day.

On the Issues

  • Supports private school vouchers. His administration proposes $5 billion in tax credits “that would fund scholarships to private schools.” The president believes that “to help working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children.”

    (The Washington Post, 2/6/19; The New York Times, 2/28/19)

  • Let them eat cake. After passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut that benefited corporations and the ultra-wealthy, the president’s budget request for education includes more than $7 billion in cuts. Although Congress will not support these proposed cuts, the Trump administration does not believe the federal government should support teacher development, public service student loan forgiveness, and higher education research.

    (The Atlantic, 3/19; Newsweek, 2/15/19)

  • Opposes unions and the rights of workers. Publicly the president aligns himself with American workers, but supports “decreased labor protections, rolled back worker safety and weakened federal unions.” In celebrating the Janus decision, he tweeted “non-union workers are…able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them.”

    (Newsweek, 9/2/18; On Labor, 6/27/18)

  • If you support me, I won’t disavow you. The president has an extensive and well-documented history of racial discrimination and racist comments. He has supported housing discrimination; called on the U.S. to ban Muslims; begrudgingly condemns white supremacists; routinely promotes racist stereotypes; and has quietly used his administration to roll back civil and human rights. In doubling down on multiple controversies, the president affirms “that he’s the least racist person.”

    (Vox, 7/25/16; The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Bigger is better. His administration proposed a budget that would cut federal education spending by more than 10 percent. Justifying these cuts before Congress, his hand-picked secretary of education, Betsy Devos, explained on behalf of the administration, “Students may be better served by being in larger classes, if by hiring fewer teachers, a district or state can better compensate those who have demonstrated high ability and outstanding results.”

    (The U.S House of Representatives, 3/26/19)

  • Don’t be fooled. Although he called for the “elimination of the Preschool Development Grants program,” the program survived but was altered. Under his administration these funds no longer “help states expand or create preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low-income families.” They now are for “building partnerships … sharing best practices among providers … and maximizing parent choice and knowledge about early-childhood options.”

    (Politico, 7/19/18; Education Week, 2/12/19)

  • Pell in the summertime. After pressure from community college representatives, his administration reinstated summer Pell eligibility. Reports suggest “that the federal government’s reinstatement of year-round Pell eligibility last year may be helping to stem overall enrollment declines.” According to the president, “Low-income students will now have access to these funds over Summer and Winter breaks so they can earn their degrees faster with fewer loans.”

    (Inside Higher Ed, 11/14/18; Promises Kept, accessed 9/1/19)

    Loans for leverage. Suggested that the federal government eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and restrict student loan borrowing “to force colleges and universities to either cap tuition increases, or even lower tuition.” Says the president, “Student loan debt. I’m going to work to fix it … I’ve always been very good with loans. I love loans. I love other people’s money.”

    (Forbes, 3/27/19; CNN, 3/21/19)

  • Fair pay is not the American Dream. According the president, pay disparities between men and women are difficult to address because “it’s very hard to say what is the same job.” He also offered that, “[if] you start to say everybody gets equal pay, you get away from the whole American Dream … and if everyone gets the same … you’re into a socialistic society.” Meanwhile his administration has tried to roll back rules that support pay equity, and has tripled the gender pay gap among White House employees.

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • Supports healthcare providers over people who need coverage. Although he promotes that his administration is “providing greater access to more affordable health insurance options,” he has done the opposite. His first term is marked by repeal of the individual mandate, opening more access for insurance agents versus people who need healthcare, and eliminating “federal payments that help reduce deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for low-income participants.” The president views the work of this administration as “promises kept.”

    (Promises Kept, accessed 9/2/19; CNN, 1/19/19)

  • Budget and the beast. The bottom line is that “Social Security and Medicare would be on the chopping block in a second Trump term.” In coordination with his Republican congressional colleagues, they are creating new murmurs of “rising deficits.” Proud and committed to their $1.5 trillion tax cut, the president and congressional Republicans are poised to “gut entitlements” if Trump is reelected. However, before he was elected president, he boasted that “I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does.”

    (Forbes, 8/23/19; Vox, 1/25/17)

  • That was easy! Let’s do it again. Emboldened by the inequitable economy created from his $1.5 trillion tax cut, the president is exploring executive actions to bypass Congress to deliver another $200 billion tax cut for wealthy Americans. The White House wants “to ensure … [it] takes effect before … reelection 2020,” but stands by its ongoing calls for billions of dollars in cuts for public schools.

    (Newsweek, 2/15/19; The Washington Post, 6/28/19; Bloomberg, 6/27/19; ABC News, 3/11/19)

  • Supports increases in funding for charter schools. The Trump administration proposed a $60 million increase for federal Charter School Programs. In his commitment to school choice, including vouchers, the president supports using “Title I funding [for] public school choice.” In outlining his achievements, the president references “$1 billion for school choice and $250 million to promote private school choice.” He famously quipped that “school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships … [are] the American way.”

    (The 74 Million, 3/11/19; Promises Kept, accessed 9/2/19; Education Week, 7/21/16)

  • Deal with it. His administration consistently calls for significant cuts to public education, including grants “for teacher salary and training.” The president believes that such programs are “ineffective, duplicative of other activities, or better funded by state and local government.” For a select group of educators, the president has proposed “increased compensation for highly effective teachers, particularly in the STEM fields.”

    (The 74 Million, 3/11/19)

  • He loves vouchers. Before he took office, the president-elect proposed “a $20 billion federal voucher program,” setting aside a potentially significant boon to private schools nationwide. Although Congress opposes many of his budget cuts, his administration has called for more than $7 billion in education funding reductions, and continues to propose billions of dollars in new tax credits “that would fund scholarships to private schools.”

    (Vox, 12/2/16; The New York Times, 2/28/19)

  • Guns don’t kill people. After visiting victims of the El Paso mass shooting, the deaths of 22 innocent people did not dissuade President Trump from affirming that “there is no political appetite for a ban on assault rifles.” Indicating an openness to expanded background checks, the president now says, “this is a mental health problem …. It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger.” Although his administration banned bump stocks, with the president stating, “I don’t care if Congress does it or not,” he has reversed restrictions on mentally disabled people acquiring guns and opposes gun-free zones. The president also supports arming educators and using federal resources to “to buy guns and train teachers.”

    (The 74 Million, 3/11/19; CNN, 8/19/19; Fox News, 3/26/19; Bustle, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Congress won’t let him cut 21st Century Community Learning Centers. If the president had his way, he would have denied after-school programs and summer enrichment programs to almost two million students nationwide. He believes that his administration’s ReThink School Tour was a success, as federal resources were used to “showcase … innovative solutions … in expanding school choice.” The president did, however, donate $100,000 of his salary … [to] be used to help fund a STEM-focused camp at the Education Department.”

    (The 74 Million, 3/11/19; Promises Kept Campaign Website, accessed 9/3/19; Center for American Progress, 3/11/19)

Joe Walsh (R)

About Joe

  • Joe Walsh is a conservative talk show host and political commentator.
  • He represented Illinois's 8th congressional district in the U.S. House from 2011-2013.

On the Issues

  • Policy is local. The talk show host and former congressman believes “educational reform … begin[s] at the local and state level.” If needed locally, he supports providing schools “qualified teachers in the classroom … [and] financial resources for computers and other teaching aids.” While serving in Congress, he pledged to protect “the rights of local communities and leaders in determining their educational future.”

    (Vote Smart, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Schools need competition, not more resources. Instead supporting funding and incentives for public schools, he supports “advancing school choice.” According to Walsh, “America’s public school system will never improve until it is forced to compete to keep its students.”

    (Vote Smart, accessed 9/3/19)

  • Anti-worker, anti-union, and anti-educator. In 2012, when the Chicago Teachers Union “walked out in its first strike in 25 years, the talk show host and former congressman wasted no time railing against educators for “turning their backs on … students … stuck in subpar schools receiving a failing education.” He did not support the union’s right to advocate for better pay and benefits and very publicly accused them of greed. While serving in Congress, he also voted to defund the National Labor Relations Board, and he supported collective bargaining restrictions in the federal government.

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/3/19; Vote Smart, 9/10/12)

  • Readily trafficked in hate speech. Walsh has a strong record of unsubstantiated, racist, and offensive comments. He once said, “The Democratic Party … want[s] Hispanics to be dependent upon government just like they got African-Americans dependent upon government.” During the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, he replied on air that he had a dream that “young black males and females graduate from high school,” and that “young black men don’t become daddies until after they’re married, and until after they have a job.” As a candidate for president, he now says, “Those aren’t my views. That’s just the way I unfortunately pushed the envelope too often.”

    (PBS News Hour, 8/27/19; Chicago Tribune, 8/25/19; Vote Smart, 6/1/12)

  • The candidate has not provided any public statements addressing or referencing class size.

  • The candidate has not provided any public statements addressing or referencing access to pre-K programs.

  • Compares addressing student loans to buying votes. The talk show host and former Congressman describes efforts to engage students on college costs as “running around from interest group to interest group promising things [like] student loans …[to go] after the youth vote.” He likens conversations with student groups to “buying votes.”

    (Vote Smart, 6/1/12)

  • No one is entitled to fair and equitable wages. When confronted with the statement, “every American deserves a fair wage,” the talk show host and former congressman responded with “Says who? In America, all you deserve is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    (Twitter, 5/26/16)

  • The government doesn’t owe you healthcare. The talk show host and former congressman believes that “the proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.” He supports “healthcare choice,” limitations on suing for medical malpractice, and providing access to flexible healthcare spending accounts.

    (Vote Smart, 6/1/12)

  • Social Security is a waste. The talk show host and former congressman believes that entitlement programs, like Social Security, are examples “of government incompetence, ineffectiveness, and waste.” As a supporter of privatizing the program, he describes Social Security as “Ponzi scheme-like [in] character,” and believes that “only when individuals have some responsibility for their own well-being will we be able to get a handle on skyrocketing costs.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; Twitter, 6/5/18)

  • Believes half of the country doesn’t pay taxes anyway. He doesn’t disagree that the wealthy should “pay their fair-share,” but believes society is better served through the generosity of trickle down resources provided through reducing tax rates and eliminating the alternative minimum and estate taxes.

    (Vote Smart, 6/1/12; Vote Smart, 9/20/12)

  • Supports charter schools and other choice options. He describes charter schools, vouchers, and home schooling as “win-win.” Walsh “taught underprivileged inner city youths and led an organization to provide private school scholarships.” He “firmly believe[s] in school choice and … that every child should have the choice of attending any school for which he/she qualifies academically.” The Republican candidate reports that “in areas where kids are given vouchers to attend private schools, the kids who get the vouchers get a better education and increased competition forces the public schools to provide a better education.”

    (Vote Smart, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Offers no support for educator pay. The talk show host and former congressman is no fan of public schools. When comparisons were made about the compensation of professional athletes versus educators, he responded that “‘we’ [the public] don’t pay baseball players hundreds of millions of dollars. Their employers do.”

    (Twitter, 5/18/19)

  • Supports private school vouchers. Recalling his experience teaching “underprivileged inner-city youths” and serving as head of a group that provided “private school scholarships to outstanding students trapped in underperforming public schools,” he supports expanding access to vouchers. He has described teacher unions fearing vouchers because they are “scared of seeing kids have the opportunity to break-free from their failing educational systems.”

    (Vote Smart, accessed 9/2/19; Vote Smart, 3/30/11)

  • “Happy shooting, kids.” Walsh endorsed a fictional program “sight unseen” that would train and arm children with guns. Learning later that the program did not exist, he admitted, “Yeah, I got fooled.” However, he believes “we do not need any more anti-gun laws” and supports carrying concealed weapons and removing any barriers to interstate gun purchases. In reference to arming teachers, he said, “Good. Teachers, properly trained and armed, can help protect students. Well done, Florida.”

    (Twitter, 5/2/19; The Washington Post, 8/27/19; On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19)

  • The candidate has not released or commented on a plan for 21st century schools.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D)
U.S. Senate, Massachusetts

About Elizabeth

  • Elizabeth Warren has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since 2012.
  • Prior to her election, she served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

On the Issues

  • Believes there’s a way to transform higher education once and for all. The senator supports the immediate cancellation of student loan debt for more than 40 million Americans. Her plan, financed by an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax,” would also guarantee free college. She believes that “once we’ve cleared out the debt that’s holding down an entire generation of Americans, we must ensure that we never have another student debt crisis again.”

    (Medium, 4/22/19)

  • Supports investments in public education and universal pre-K. The senator believes that “America’s middle class was built through investments in education.” Preserving it, she argues, also requires everyone has access to preschool and affordable child care.

    (Sen. Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senate Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Upholds strong collective bargaining rights. As Los Angeles educators were on strike, the senator tweeted “When we fail our public school teachers, we fail their students— and we fail our future.” In the Senate, she has supported bills to repeal right-to-work laws and make workplace organizing easier. She believes “if we want to protect workers … that means banning states from imposing restrictions that prevent workers from joining together to fight for their future.”

    (Twitter, 1/14/19; Washington Examiner, 1/18/19)

  • Structural racism matters. Acknowledging disparities in wealth and opportunity, the senator has stated that the country cannot run from its “ugly history of racism.” She supports reparations for the descendants of American slaves and admits that “race matters and we need to say so.”

    (AP News, 2/22/19)

  • Supports targeted funds for class size. The senator from Massachusetts believes in providing resources to reduce class size, but supports efforts that ensure funds are available where they are needed most. She is a cosponsor of the Smaller Class Sizes for Students and Educators Act, legislation that “prioritizes funding for high-poverty school districts to reduce class size.”

    (Next City, 3/14/19)

  • She has a plan for pre-K too. To help working families, she proposes “that anyone making under 200 percent of the federal poverty level … be eligible for… free pre-kindergarten programs.” She also recommends that families above this line be eligible for discounts, including that “preschools would charge a maximum of 7 percent of that family’s income” for programs.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Believes universal free college is possible. The senator prefers to cancel all student loan debt as opposed to reducing it. She has a plan that calls for a new “2 percent annual tax on families with $50 million or more.” This “Ultra-Millionaire Tax … would cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 42 million Americans.”

    (The Hill, 4/22/19)

  • The current debate over equal pay is humiliating. The senator is disappointed that the country still has to recognize Equal Pay Day. Recognition of ongoing wage disparities between men and women represents a “national day of embarrassment.” She continues to advocate for equal pay and is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • What no plan?! The senator from Massachusetts supports Medicare for All, but has not offered a specific plan on expanding access to healthcare. She believes that “the basic profit model of an insurance company is taking as much money as you can in premiums and pay out as little as possible in healthcare coverage.” According to the senator, “that is not working.” As president, she plans to “pull everyone to the table” to craft a healthcare plan.

    (Politico, 8/2/19)

  • Read her lips: no cuts. The senator has called for funding increases for the Social Security Administration. She introduced legislation previously that would compensate recipients for not receiving cost-of-living adjustments. According to Warren, “Social Security is a lifeline for millions of people with disabilities. We need to expand it, not make cuts.”

    (CNBC, 7/6/19)

  • She has a way to level the playing field. The senator supports policies that give every American an opportunity to thrive. She believes that applying an Ultra-Millionaire Tax that includes “a … 2 percent tax on … fortunes over $50 million” is the right solution for closing the wealth gap and laying the foundation for more Americans “to create wealth and a bright future for themselves and their loved ones.”

    (Black Enterprise, 6/14/19; Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • She’s ok with public charters, but won’t fund them. Although she has opposed their expansion, Warren has said that “many charter schools in Massachusetts are producing extraordinary results for our students.” However, these results are related “to tight oversight, a prohibition on for-profit charters, and a limit on growth of charters in the state.” If elected president, she has pledged to not request federal funding for charter schools. The senator also “supports banning for-profits and increasing accountability” over existing charter schools.

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19; Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • Increasing pay for educators takes leadership. The senator from Massachusetts believes that the federal government should subsidize teacher pay where resources are scarce. She also has reiterated the importance of appointing a public school teacher as the next secretary of education. “Let’s get a person with real teaching experience …. A person who understands how low pay, tattered textbooks, and crumbling classrooms hurt students and educators.”

    (USA Today, 5/13/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • She’s had enough. Stating that “enough is enough,” Warren proposes a plan that would reduce gun deaths by 80 percent, by “rein[ing] in an out-of-control gun industry.”

    (Medium, 8/10/19)

  • Students need additional supports for their success. In preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow, the senator does not want to neglect what they are facing today. Included in her criminal justice plan are proposals to ensure that “every child … [has] the opportunity … to thrive.” She has called for dismantling “the school-to-prison pipeline,” supporting “implicit bias training to reduce suspensions and expulsions,” and incentivizing the use of more “trauma-informed alternative discipline practices.”

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19; Medium, 8/20/19)

Bill Weld (R)

About Bill

  • Bill Weld served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and ran as Vice President on the Libertarian ticket in 2016.
  • Prior to his election as Governor, Weld served as Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan.

On the Issues

  • Does not support money for nothing. To address deep resource inequities, the governor signed legislation pegged as the “grand bargain … more money in exchange for standards and accountability.” According to the governor, “I was in favor of both halves of it.”

    (Education Week, 2/15/19; Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 6/7/16)

  • He funded his mandate. When landmark education legislation passed in 1993, it included “over $1 billion in extra education funding—mostly to poor communities.” Galled by funding disparities, he stated, “If you want a great education, you do have to pay for it.”

    (Boston Globe, 6/11/18; Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 6/7/16)

  • Opposes the right to bargain. Hired significant staff from the Pioneer Institute, a think tank affiliated with efforts to roll back collective bargaining for public employees. He once described teachers unions as “retrograde” and “medieval.”

    (Mother Jones, 4/25/11; Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 6/7/16)

  • Opposes LBTQ discrimination in public schools. As governor, signed legislation that provided protection and support for gay students. The initiative also included educator training in harassment prevention. The governor believes, “The concept of schools as safe havens must apply to all students, including gay and lesbian students.”

    (Education Week, 2/15/19; The New York Times, 7/4/1993)

  • Supports smaller government instead. The former Massachusetts governor “favors shrinking the government overall, including eliminating the Education Department.” He not has not expressed an interest in reducing class sizes.

    (The Washington Post, 2/15/19)

  • No consideration for universal pre-K. The fiscal conservative has called for “abolishing the Department of Education.” Although he supported increasing school standards as governor, he has not made any statements on access to universal pre-K.

    (Business Insider, 6/3/19)

  • Open to free tuition for displaced workers. The former governor supports expanding access to online courses, and he also supports free in-state tuition at community colleges for displaced workers. He warns, “If we don’t do this, the door to the middle class may be closed to the working poor.”

    (Boston Globe Media Services, 2/15/19)

  • The candidate has not provided any public statements addressing or referencing fair pay or pay equity.

  • Believes Medicaid should be widely accessible. The former governor of Massachusetts previously requested “additional funding for Medicaid” in the state. As a supporter of the program, “he … relaxed the state’s Medicaid requirements … to increase healthcare access.”

    (PBS News Hour, 2/15/19)

  • Likes Social Security. Once ranked “the most fiscally conservative governor,” he admits that “Millennials are smart enough to know they’re never going to see Social Security if we keep running a $1 trillion deficit.” Although he offers no specifics on how he would address Social Security, the wealthy former governor says, “I don’t propose to abolish Social Security, I just started receiving it!” He also has joked “that his ancestors weren’t on the Mayflower because they sent their servants over first to get the summer cottage ready.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19; The Bulwark, 2/14/19)

  • Supports Trump’s massive tax cuts. Weld admits “the president’s decision to be divisive … was a cynical move … but it … had some success … there was a certain amount of economic insecurity out there.” Despite their differences, he offers, “I liked the tax bill … I always like taking money off the table so the government can’t spend it.”

    (New Hampshire Public Radio, 4/26/19)

  • Believes charter schools should be fully funded too. The self-described “most vocal proponent of charter schools” believes that “funding for charter schools should mirror that of other public schools as closely as possible.” He also believes that “too many U.S. charter schools have grown complacent, replicating the mediocre achievement of traditional district schools.”

    (The Hill, 1/28/19)

  • Does not mention educator pay. The former governor has a variety of education beliefs and proposals that do not include compensating educators. He supports more school choice and home schooling. He has consistently called for “abolishing the U. S. Department of Education, [and supports] transferring decision-making authority to the states and the parents of school-age and college-age children.”

    (On the Issues, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Supports private school vouchers. As governor, he proposed a plan that would “expand voucher use to private schools.” He also believes that “we’ve got to give vouchers a chance. There is something to this.”

    (Forbes, 5/30/16)

  • Things change when you run for president. Weld previously supported banning assault weapons and preventing gun sales to anyone under 21, but he has updated his position, stating “restricting gun rights doesn’t make us safer, and threatens our constitutional freedoms.”

    (The Tennessee Star, 4/18/19; Reason, 5/21/16)

  • Supports expanding access to online education. The former governor believes that more consideration should be given to online education. “We can make it possible for people to acquire … skills, and recent research has shown that online education is just as sticky as the little red schoolhouse, the social learning that we all grew up with.”

    (The Hill, 5/13/19)

Marianne Williamson (D)

About Marianne

  • Marianne Williamson is an author from Texas and founder of the nonprofit Project Angel Food.
  • Williamson has written thirteen books, including four New York Times bestsellers.

On the Issues

  • Supports a “whole person educational system.” The noted author and motivational speaker supports universal preschool and a vast “array of educational approaches, including social and emotional learning; the development of conflict resolution skills; restorative justice; meditation and mindfulness; anti-bullying programs; [and reducing] high stakes testing.” She believes that education can address “the heart and soul as well as the intellect.”

    (Marianne 2020, accessed 5/13/19)

  • Education investments should honor the “whole person.” As president, she would include “increased funding for free and reduced-price lunches,” and “federal compensation for state school funding.” She believes that these priorities address the disparities associated with childhood poverty and unequal access to quality education.

    (Marianne 2020, accessed 5/13/19)

  • Supports workers’ rights, protections, and more workplace benefits. To counteract policies that are only serving the top 1 percent, her plan for the economy includes increasing the minimum wage to reflect “a living wage,” protecting the rights of “working people to organize for better wages and working conditions,” and requiring employers to offer paid vacation, “even for part-time employees.”

    (Marianne 2020, accessed 5/13/19)

  • A debt unpaid is still a debt unpaid.” Her plan for racial reconciliation and healing identifies “America’s fundamental race problem is a moral issue.” To heal the legacy of injustice, she believes the U.S. “should pay reparations for slavery.” “Just as Germany has paid $89 billion in reparations … since WW2,” she supports “$200-$500 billion … to be disbursed over a period of 20 years.”

    (Marianne 2020, accessed 5/13/19)

  • Supports smaller class sizes. The best-selling author understands that “we also need to ensure that teachers face classrooms of a manageable size.” Her plans for education include providing sufficient resources to hire “more teachers overall” and “shrink” the ratio of students to teachers.

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • The answer is YES. When asked, “Should the federal government fund and implement a national, free universal pre-K program” she responded “yes,” and it should be “free for everyone.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Supports free college and student loan relief. The author and motivation speaker supports free college, including technical schools. To address overwhelming student loan debt, she proposes “student loan amnesty,” which includes student loan forgiveness, interest rate reductions for repayment, and removing “the annual caps on federally subsidized loans.”

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • Believes in equal pay for equal work. She supports policies that address wage disparities between men and women, and touts “equal pay for equal work” as a solution to help close the income gap.

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • The country needs Medicare for All. Although her plan would allow individuals to keep their private insurance, the best-selling author believes in focusing on disease prevention, enhanced health technologies, and improved integration of nutrition programs in schools. She believes that “there is no way to measure the amount of money that does not enter our economy based on the fact that so many Americans are too stressed and anxious to create and produce at the level that they otherwise could.”

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Social Security needs someone to protect it. Williamson supports “raising the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll tax.” She describes the program as “successful and compassionate,” and believes that her plan can “keep the system solvent indefinitely, without reducing benefits.”

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Would repeal Trump tax cuts. Williamson supports repealing the 2017 tax cuts and passing a series of fixes to help small business owners and middle-class families. She favors “an additional 3 percent tax on billionaires … raising the estate tax” and increasing taxes on Wall Street.

    (Kiplinger, 6/5/19)

  • Candidate has not provided statements on charter schools or related accountability measures.

  • Supports more pay for educators. The best-selling author and motivational speaker supports public schools and educators. Unlike some other candidates, she has not recommended “a specific dollar amount,” but she does “agree … that we need to pay teachers a lot more.”

    (Real Clear Politics, 7/28/19)

  • Opposes vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” the candidate responded, “No.”

    (The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Mental health needs attention. Although she supports a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks, she believes those suffering from mental illness need support and should be restricted from purchasing a gun.

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Politico, 8/15/19)

  • Schools should focus on the whole person. Williamson supports “a far more expansive array of educational approaches.” Her plan proposes “social and emotional learning … development of conflict resolution skills; restorative justice; [and] meditation and mindfulness.” She believes that the education system should address “the heart and soul as well as the intellect.”

    (Marianne 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

Andrew Yang (D)

About Andrew

  • Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur from New York and founder of the nonprofit Venture for America.
  • Yang earned his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, a Bachelors in economics from Brown, and has written several books on entrepreneurship.

On the Issues

  • Wants every student to be supported and prepared for the future. As technology gives and takes, the former entrepreneur believes that universal preschool, career and technical education, and college affordability are essential. He shares that “I have many friends who work in technology and they know … what we did to the manufacturing jobs … retail jobs … call center jobs. So we need to think much bigger about how we’re going to help Americans transition through this time.”

    (Business Insider, 3/29/19; CNN Transcripts, 4/14/19)

  • Supports investing where it counts. Expressing concern that “emphasizing rote academic skills in the age of supercomputers is not preparing our people for what’s to come,” he calls for specific investments in early childhood education, technical training, arts education, and tuition-free community college.

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Labor needs a “game changer.” As unions adjust to turbulent times and new realities, he believes that access to Universal Basic Income would provide the financial reliability for workers to “increase worker bargaining power … and … push harder against exploitative labor conditions.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, 9/4/18)

  • Universal basic income brings economic justice. Economic insecurity wreaks havoc on society, and increases in automation will result in one out of three Americans losing their jobs. Providing every citizen a guaranteed $1,000 per month would reduce “conditions of scarcity, poverty, and financial insecurity, major sources of stress for millions of people … and would create 4.6 million jobs.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 4/25/19)

  • Supports expanding class size at universities. In a policy twist, the entrepreneur does not address reducing class size in the early grades, but has a focus on expanding class sizes at the nation’s “highly elite universities” to prevent fraud and corruption in admissions.

    (Business Insider, 8/1/19)

  • Supports universal pre-K. Yang is a proponent of early childhood education, and he has proposed ensuring universal access to pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

    (Chalkbeat, 8/28/19)

  • He’s been there. The entrepreneur admits to owing “tens of thousands for years after graduating.” As a presidential candidate, he is calling for a “bailout” to help reduce outstanding student loans across the board. He also plans to create a grant program “that forgives student debt for those who work in rural areas or with underprivileged populations.” He bluntly believes, “we have to stop screwing young people and sticking them with the bill.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/1/19)

  • He’s ready to fight for equal pay. The entrepreneur has a plan to address wage differences between men and women, including the even deeper disparities with women of color. His plan calls for “working with states to implement salary disclosure laws, requiring federal contractors to pay employees equally and launching new studies around pay equity in the federal workforce.”

    (Time, 4/2/19)

  • Supports team Medicare for all. The entrepreneur believes that “with a shift to a Medicare for All system, costs can also be controlled directly by setting prices provided for medical services.” As president, he vows to work cooperatively with Congress and “shift the way doctors are compensated to promote holistic and empathic care.” He also supports the federal government creating “incentives for and invest[ing] in innovative treatment methods and methodologies.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

  • He’s got you covered. As a supporter of providing every American a universal basic income, the entrepreneur believes that $1,000 per month would cover expenses. His plan “would offer a choice between the existing welfare state [Social Security Disability Insurance] and the Freedom Dividend [universal basic income].” He admits the “need to strengthen Social Security,” but with a “different plan.”

    (Vox, 3/11/19; Twitter, 12/6/18)

  • He supports a new value added tax. Yang has centered his campaign on ensuring that everyone receives $1,000 per month as universal basic income. To pay for this benefit, he proposes establishing “a new 10 percent value added [or consumption] tax.” He also “wants to end favorable tax treatment for capital gains and carried interest,” and he thinks it would be “fun” if everyone could choose a government project “to direct 1 percent of their taxes.”

    (Kiplinger, 8/28/19)

  • On both sides. Claims there are good charter schools and bad charter schools, and offered, “I have friends who have put their heart and soul into charter schools for underprivileged kids who were being failed by our public school system.” Stated that “we should…[put] resources into both schools.”

    (Twitter, 5/17/19)

  • Supports raises for educators. The entrepreneur believes in increasing the pay for educators. Where funds are inadequate or unavailable, he supports the federal government subsidizing teacher pay.

    (Business Insider, 8/1/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Has not committed to a position on vouchers. When asked on a candidate questionnaire, “Do you support using public money in the form of vouchers or tax credits for private or religious school education?” Yang did not respond. The entrepreneur has only offered to “work with states to fund their educational systems.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19; The Washington Post, accessed 9/2/19)

  • We need to get smart about guns. Yang believes that smart gun technology provides added safety as it “would make firearms harder to fire for non-owners of the gun.” He also supports a voluntary buyback program and universal background checks.

    (Axios, 8/16/19; Politico, accessed 9/2/19)

  • Students need to be prepared for the new economy. As more jobs vanish as a result of technology advancements, Yang is concerned that Americans are not prepared. His education plan calls for expanding access to vocational education, providing “free financial counseling for all,” and ensuring students have access to “life skills in all high schools.”

    (Yang 2020 Campaign Website, accessed 9/2/19)

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