Round 1: What the 2020 Democratic candidates said about education in the first debate

They interrupted each other. They spoke Spanish. And, for a few moments, they talked about education. 

The first televised Democratic presidential candidates debate, held in Miami on Wednesday night, featured 10 candidates: Cory Booker, Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren. 

Here’s what we heard about schools and education. For a full rundown of the candidates’ education positions, check out our tracker

  • Booker: Improving health care would improve schools, too. “In communities like mine, low-income communities, this is an education issue because kids who do not have health care are not going to succeed in school.” 
  • De Blasio: I can bring pre-kindergarten to America. “It matters that we choose someone who saw the wasted potential of our children denied pre-K and gave it to every single one of them, for free. These are the things I’ve done in New York.” 
  • Delaney: We need to do “real things” to help working people. “We’ve got to fix our public education system,” he said. “It’s not delivering the results our kids need, nor is college and post-high school career and technical training programs doing that.”
  • Klobuchar: College should be more affordable, and not just for “rich kids.” “My plan would be to make community college free and make sure that everyone else, besides that top percentile, gets help with their education. My own dad and my sister got their first degree with community college. There are many paths to success and certifications. Secondly, I’d use Pell grants. I’d double it from $6,000 to $12,000 per year and expand it to the number of families that get covered to families that make up to $100,000.”  
  • Ryan: Every school needs a mental health counselor. “We need to start dealing with the trauma that our kids have. We need trauma-based care in every school. We need social and emotional learning in every school.”

Ten more candidates will debate Thursday night.