Basic Briefing

The Education Debate

The debate on education focuses on how to provide and measure high-quality Pre-K-12 education. How should money be allocated to schools? What training should teachers be required to complete before entering the classroom? How can teachers’ performance be measured? Is Common Core a step in the right direction? How much authority should the Department of Education have?

Official Democratic position

The Democratic Party “...believe all students should be taught to high academic standards. Schools should have adequate resources to provide programs and support to help meet the needs of every child.” They believe teachers should “receive the tools and ongoing professional development they need to succeed in the classroom” and support “policies that motivate rather than demoralize our educators.” They support universal preschools, believe students should graduate college unburdened by debt and oppose “predatory for-profit schools”.

Official Republican position

The Republican Party does not believe the federal government has a role in education. They support school choice in education, “including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools.” They also support the English First approach. The Party believes the “rigid tenure systems should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom.”

Institutional framework

Schools are primarily overseen at a state and local level. The federal Department of Education enforces federal education laws regarding privacy, civil rights, and state compliance with student assessments and school progress reports. States license and regulate private schools, set broad policies for curricula and assessment, and certify teachers. Most states have adopted Common Core, which are benchmarks in math and language arts that students should be proficient in at the end of each year in school.

Locally, district Boards of Education and Superintendents negotiate teacher contracts, open and close schools, and manage the district budgets.

Public schools are funded by federal and state taxes and local property taxes. Due to the variability of state and local funding, money spent per pupil ranges from $6,206 to $19,552 per year.

Most Vocal on Education

These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.

Duncan Hunter | Candidate for 50th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Lamar Alexander | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2020 Primary Election in Tennessee (TN) | Crowdpac Tim Kaine | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Virginia (VA) | Crowdpac Thad Cochran | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2020 Primary Election in Mississippi (MS) | Crowdpac Mazie Hirono | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Hawaii (HI) | Crowdpac John Kline | 2nd Congressional District, 2014 in Minnesota (MN) | Crowdpac Al Franken | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2020 Primary Election in Minnesota (MN) | Crowdpac Jack Reed | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2020 Primary Election in Rhode Island (RI) | Crowdpac Ruben Hinojosa | 15th Congressional District, 2014 in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Chaka Fattah | 2nd Congressional District, 2014 in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac

The Spectrum on Education

These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.

Crowdpacs tagged Education

Relevant Committees


National Education Association (NEA) - The largest professional union in the United States, representing teachers, administrators, and other education workers

Alliance for School Choice - The largest organization in the United States promoting school choice programs