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Where the Current 2016 Presidential Hopefuls Stand on Education


Find out where the current 2016 presidential hopefuls stand on the big education issues. 


The Democratic Nominee


Hillary Rodham Clinton

Some of the major issues with education Clinton would like to address with her potential presidency would be teacher pay, putting behavioral skill-training into the nation-wide curriculum, and investing in universal preschool

Clinton wants to increase funding to special education, a promise she said the federal government made but hasn't fulfilled since streamlining students with disabilities into regular classrooms. She wants an investment into education research to avoid jumping from "fad to fad" and she wants to see more energy and funding dedicated to improving the education of children from low-income families. Throughout her career, Clinton has been committed to helping early education through a variety of measures like home-visits. She has been credited with the expansion of a program that has been bringing home-visits to early learners for decades. 

Major Education Endorsements

Clinton is poised to have the endorsement of the National Education Association, despite some dissent on whether to endorse her or Sanders. 

"Last month, the NEA in New Hampshire also endorsed Clinton. But support for a Clinton endorsement within NEA’s rank and file isn’t widespread. Vermont’s NEA chapter endorsed Sanders in June. NEA chapters in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nebraska urged the national council to wait before acting," according to

Fixing the School-to-Prison Pipeline 

In February, Clinton announced her intention to invest $2 billion in fixing the school-to-prison pipeline that affects minority communities. She said she intended to use the money to reform disciplinary practices in school districts throughout the country. 

Supporting Longer School Days and Years

Clinton said that she is in support of longer school days and years to help disadvantaged students keep up with learning despite challenges. 

Support of Charter Schools 

Clinton has long-supported charter schools, although she was criticized for comments that charter schools do not enroll the hardest-to-teach kids and if they do, do not keep them. She immediately reiterated her support of charter schools following the comments. 

Commitment to STEM, Computer Science, and Tech Innovation

In her tech agenda, Clinton outlined a commitment to training 50,000 teachers in computer science in the next ten years, incentivizing students who want to work in technology-related fields, and a plan to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to all by 2020. 

On Guns in Schools 

She has said repeatedly that she does not support guns in schools or the arming of teachers under any circumstances. 

On the Common Core: She supports it, and has called the argument surrounding it "unfortunate" during a round-table discussion on education in Iowa earlier this year. Clinton, answering a question from a Common Core-supporter, said Iowa is generally in favor of the standards because it has adopted a solid structure for implementation.

"So Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system," she said.

On the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): 

According to Politico, "Hillary Clinton praised the bill, saying it wasn’t perfect, but it 'retains a commitment to high academic standards, enables communities to strike a better balance on testing, requires districts and states to take action to turn around struggling schools, and allows states to take a holistic approach when measuring school success.'"


Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine

Clinton's running mate has a long background working in education thanks to his seasoned role as a legislator in Virginia. Married to Virginia's former secretary of education, Anne Holton, the two are frequently referred to as an education power in the state and now potentially the entire country.

A proponent of strengthening Career and Technical Education in the country, Kaine is responsible for helping to pass a provision that focuses on CTE in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Kaine has long supported Common Core/ higher standards as well as a federal commitment to teacher pay and early education.

Read more about where Kaine stands on education here.

The Republican Candidate


Donald Trump

The billionaire, who would experience his first time in elected office if nominated president, would like to see the Department of Education cut down and is a big supporter of local control of education. Trump's stance on education has been considered a "wild card" because he has not made many of his views clear and seems mistaken about much of what he discusses.

Most recently, he incorrectly cited the U.S. as performing dead last on global assessments as well as having the highest per-pupil spending rates above any other country. Both of these statements were proven false. 

He is against teacher unions, calling them "monopolies." 

Trump's campaign officials have said he would not support student pursuit of liberal arts education outside of prestigious universities. 

On Guns in Schools: He said in January 2016 that he would get rid of gun-free zones the first day of his potential presidency and would support arming teachers that are trained, although he has since softened this stance. 


On the Common Core: Trump is against the Common Core. He has publicly criticized former hopeful Jeb Bush's support of the standards and during his campaign he released a video with his intentions to get rid of the Common Core if elected. He has not, however, given specifics as to how to replace it. It is unclear if Trump understands that Common Core is not a federal mandate. 

On the ESSA: Unclear, though he most likely opposes, since, like Ted Cruz, he's said he would completely eliminate the Department of Education if elected. 


Republican Vice Presidential Candidate

Mike Pence

Thanks to Pence's long career in politics, he also has a long record when it comes to education.

For instance, in 2001 Pence was one of 25 Republicans to cast a vote against No Child Left Behind.

Presently, he is making his support of universal preschool as governor of Indiana a central focus of his education platform. Similarly to Clinton's vice presidential pick, Pence supports strengthening CTE and worked rigorously to create options for students.

Read more about where Pence stands on education here.

The Libertarian Nominee

Gary Johnson

As former governor of New Mexico, Johnson can perhaps be considered one of the most experienced candidates when it comes to education; not to mention his running mate is considered one of the driving factors behind Massachusetts' journey to being a state revered for being exceptional in education (see: William Weld).

Specifically, Johnson has long supported school choice and school vouchers. He has said on numerous occasions that he believes competition will force public schools to be better.

Similar to Donald Trump, he is a proponent of abolishing the Department of Education.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about these candidates? Let us know.


Compiled by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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