7 Alternate Questions for Public Education Forum 2020

Saturday at 9 a.m. EST, eight presidential candidates are expected to participate in “Public Education Forum 2020,” a debate sponsored by teachers unions, civil rights groups, and other organizations.

According to NBC News, topics will include: “early childhood education, school investment, student debt and disparities in public education, among other issues.”

Given the forum’s sponsors, who tend towards anti-charter and anti-choice perspectives, it’s unlikely that the conversation will reflect a wide spread of education reform views.

So I polled some members of our team for questions they hope will be asked — even if they suspect it’s unlikely. Here are seven:

  1. According to a 2019 Education Next poll, 55% percent of Black Americans support charter schools. Why is the issue controversial among Democrats at a time when the party is trying to be more inclusive?
  2. 40 percent of today’s teachers are not covered by Social Security. Do you support expanding Social Security coverage to all teachers?
  3. Schools have many more staff members than they did in the past, but teacher salaries are flat. Why is this happening and what would you do about it? 
  4. Many of you have made education proposals. How would you realistically get these passed in Congress?
  5. Education spending is going up, but those dollars are not making their way into classrooms due to the rising costs of pension and healthcare benefits. How would your plan address these problems?
  6. In 2015 and 2016, 3.9 million students dropped out of college with debt. How can K-12 and higher education work together to ensure students complete college successfully? 
  7. Native students face some of the toughest odds in America today: only 17 percent pursue education after high school and they experience traumatic circumstances at higher rates than all other peer groups. The ESSA federal education law requires a new focus on these students. What would you do to improve the educational experiences and life outcomes of Native students? 

What else would you add? You can follow along using the debate hashtag: #PublicEdForum.