Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Education?

Your one-stop guide.

The race for the president is in full swing. Before you head to the polls, know where the presidential candidates stand on education issues like teacher pay to school safety.

Note: WeAreTeachers does not endorse any particular candidate or political party. Our goal is to provide you information so you can make an informed decision. For each candidate, we’ve provided key messages brought to the voters. We also showcase additional education ideas and policies that the candidate has taken the time to support.

* This article was posted in February 2020. Candidate platforms develop as the campaign continues. 

Where the Democratic Presidential Candidates stand on Education Issues …

Joseph Biden

Former Vice President | Former Delaware Senator

Talking Point: Biden’s education plan calls for an increase in federal spending for districts and schools that serve low-income children. He wants to triple the money the federal government sends to low-income schools from $16 billion to $48 billion. The cash would be used to pay teachers, increase access to Pre-K, increase rigor (for example, adding more advanced placement classes), and meet other needs.

He also supports:

  • Universal Pre-K
  • Pay raises for teachers
  • Renewal of desegregation work by the Department of Education through grants to help schools diversify
  • Gun control measures and infrastructure spending to make schools safer

Michael Bloomberg

Billionaire Media Executive | Former Mayor of New York City

Talking Point: Bloomberg has been a supporter of charter schools and is expected to continue his support for charters in his platform. His presidential campaign platform is to make it a “national priority to increase student achievement, college preparedness, and career readiness.”

He also supports:

  • Pay raises for teachers

Pete Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, IN | Military Veteran

Talking Point: Buttigieg’s husband is a teacher, so Buttigieg touts understanding the challenges that teachers face each day. The major tenets of his plan are to triple funding for Title 1 schools, create a $10 billion equity fund to close opportunity gaps between high- and low-income districts, and increase mental health care in schools.

He also supports:

  • Universal Pre-K
  • Launching an Education Access Corps to prepare and retain teachers for Title 1 schools
  • Increasing the percent of teachers and leaders of color
  • Increasing pay for early childhood educators
  • Support for teachers unions
  • Providing after-school programs and summer learning for all students
  • Increased accountability for charter schools
  • Putting policies and funding in place to reduce desegregation

Tulsi Gabbard

Hawaii Congresswoman | Military Veteran

Talking Point: Gabbard’s platform involves providing resources and accountability to ensure equal access to quality education.

She also supports:

  • Resolving student debt
  • College for all

Amy Klobuchar

Minnesota Senator | Former Attorney

Talking Point: Klobuchar wants to establish a Progress Partnership to provide states with matching federal funds for implementing specific programs. The programs and incentives would focus on school improvement and her plan would require that states increase teacher pay, ensure that high school curricula prepare students for success, and create an infrastructure improvement fund.

She also supports:

  • Increasing teacher pay
  • Incorporating after-school programs into schools
  • Reviewing the current education funding formula to ensure equal disbursement of funds
  • Funding for STEM programs
  • Funding for disability programs
  • Blocking private school voucher expansion
  • Addressing the disproportionate punishment of students of color in education
  • Restoring protections for LGBTQ individuals in education

Deval Patrick

Former Massachusetts Governor | Executive at Bain Capital

Talking Point: Deval’s education platform focuses on reducing student debt and increasing public school funding.

He also supports:

  • Funding for charter schools
  • Free community college
  • Reducing student debt

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator

Talking Point: Sanders’ focus is on reducing racial and economic segregation, making teaching a desirable profession to attract strong teachers, and creating positive learning environments. This involves increasing and funneling funding into programs that desegregate schools, increasing funding for Title 1 schools, and increasing funding for teacher training programs, particularly in HBCUs.

He also supports:

  • Increasing teacher pay and establishing a starting salary of no less than $60,000
  • Strengthening IDEA and increasing funding to support the act
  • Eliminating federal funding ($440 million) for charter schools
  • Year-round free universal school meals with incentives for locally sourced food
  • Gun violence prevention laws
  • Rebuilding, modernizing, and encouraging green school infrastructure
  • Increasing federal funding for community strategies to desegregate schools
  • Implementing Title IX and policies to protect LGBTQ students and immigrant students from harassment

Tom Steyer

Billionaire Former Hedge Fund Executive

Talking Point: Steyer wants to ensure that every child has the opportunity to attend good schools and achieve higher education or work goals without worrying about cost. The Right to Learn is one of his five “Rights.”

He also supports:

  • Addressing the current level of student debt
  • Strengthening the public school system

Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Senator | Former Harvard Professor

Talking Point: Warren’s plan is focused on increasing federal spending for public schools, confronting desegregation, and ending federal support for charter schools. Warren wants to quadruple Title 1 spending through state funding and changing funding formulas that determine monies for low-income districts. Her plan identifies school integration as an improvement strategy and would encourage Title 1 schools to use funds to promote integration.

She also supports:

  • Increasing teacher pay
  • Eliminating federal funding ($440 million) for charter schools
  • Using federal funds to encourage authentic assessments in schools
  • Increasing federal funding for IDEA grants
  • An Excellence in Education grant program to support after school programming and other school and community needs

Where the Republican Presidential Candidates stand on Education Issues …

Donald Trump

President | Former Reality TV Star | Real Estate Developer

Talking Point: President Trump’s education platform has focused on school choice, preparing students to compete in a global economy, modernizing student aid, and holding colleges and universities accountable.

He also supports:

  • Less federal spending on education
  • Less federal spending on teacher training and grants to support schools
  • Arming teachers and revoking school discipline policies put in place by the Obama administration
  • Merging the Departments of Education and Labor

Joe Walsh

Conservative Radio Show Host | Former Illinois Congressman

Talking Point: Walsh is opposed to the Common Core standards and focuses on “market-based” education reforms, including charter schools, vouchers for students to attend private schools, and homeschooling.

He also supports:

  • School choice
  • Implementing performance pay for teachers

William Weld

Former Massachusetts Governor | Former Federal Prosecutor

Talking Point: Weld is in favor of abolishing the Department of Education as a way to reduce the size of government. He prefers to let states take control of education rather than having a national standard.

He also supports:

  • School choice, including charter schools and homeschooling
  • Repealing the renegotiation of student debt

We hope these points make it clearer where the presidential candidates stand on education topics. You might also be interested in teachers who have ran for office and what gets teachers out there to vote.

Posted by Samantha Cleaver

Samantha Cleaver, PhD, teaches middle school special education and writes about her favorite thing to do, reading.

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