Public education was front and center on Saturday, Dec. 14, during a forum on the 2020 presidential election. The nation heard from candidates Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren at “Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Opportunity for All” in Pittsburgh. “What’s happening today flips the script,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “It is a paradigm shift because the candidates have a chance to listen to what we’ve witnessed from the lens of our lived experience. Teachers bear a huge responsibility for the nation, but they don’t have the respect or the resources they need.”
Students played a big role in the forum. Shakeer Franklin, a 10th-grader from Baltimore, said how excited he’d been to learn about the event, especially that it would include ideas about HBCUs and restorative practices. “They going to talk about public schools? Dope!” he told his teachers. “Let’s get it!”
The AFT partnered with 10 other unions and nonprofits to sponsor the forum: the Alliance for Educational Justice; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Center for Popular Democracy Action; the Journey for Justice Alliance; the NAACP; the National Education Association; the Network for Public Education Action; the Schott Foundation for Public Education—Opportunity to Learn Action Fund; the Service Employees International Union; and Voto Latino.
Watch a condensed highlight video and the full unedited forum below.