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As the country continues through the 2020 presidential election year, with the New Hampshire primaries tonight, we at National Crittenton feel it is imperative to highlight the many ways in which girls and gender-expansive young people are impacted by the positions and policies many of the candidates build their campaigns on. That’s why we’ve decided to issue a special series of the Centering Girls in Systems Change newsletter – a newsletter a week covering juvenile justice, gender-based violence, health and reproductive justice, education, child welfare and youth homelessness, and immigration. We will focus on the 12 candidates (11 Democrats and one Republican, not including the President) running for office, taking a closer look at their stances and track records on issues that impact the health and livelihood of girls and gender-expansive young people across our country. Read last week’s edition on juvenile justice here.


Many candidates have made education a major component of their campaign, and there has been a lot of discussion about addressing student loan debt and preparing students for the future of work. However, for the sake of this newsletter, we have left out a lot of policies concerning higher education, career readiness, and teacher compensation which we encourage you to look into if you are interested. We have instead focused on policies that ensure schools are safe, accessible, and supportive environments for all students.


Joe Biden, Former Vice President

Current Policies/Positions: Biden’s “Plan for Educators, Students, and our Future” includes: doubling the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools “so our kids get the mental health care they need”; expanding the “community school” model to support students and parents; improving public school buildings to address health risks; keeping guns out of schools; eliminating the funding gap between “white and non-white districts” as well as “rich and poor districts” by tripling Title I funding; improving teacher diversity; creating “a new competitive program challenging local communities to reinvent high school to meet these changing demands of work”; reinstating Obama era Department of Education guidance to support desegregation and improve school discipline policies; fully funding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to “ensure that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed”; investing in school vocational training; and providing universal pre-kindergarten for all three and four-year-olds. Biden’s “Plan to End Violence Against Women” (covered in last week’s newsletter) also includes restoring Title IX guidance, increasing fines imposed on colleges for Clery Act violations, “expanding requirements for comprehensive sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence prevention education on college campuses,” requiring colleges to improve reporting practices regarding sexual assault, training school staff to better support survivors, and expanding prevention services to public K-12 schools.

Track Record: Biden’s track record includes sponsoring the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 1991Note: we have not included any legislation passed during the Obama administration because it is not technically part of Biden’s Congressional record.

Michael Bloomberg, Former Mayor of New York City

Current Policies/Positions: Bloomberg’s campaign website includes a section on education and college access. However the page does not describe any policy plans, focusing instead on Bloomberg’s record as Mayor and his commitment to making “it a top national priority to increase student achievement, college preparedness, and career readiness.”

Track Record: As Mayor of New York City, Bloomberg successfully pushed through a state law that “abolished the boards that govern[ed] the city’s 32 community school districts,”–putting the Mayor’s office in control of the city’s school system–in an effort to address corruption and ineffective leadershipwithin the school boards. Bloomberg also “phased out 150 schools” that were not performing well, allowed private charter schools to use the city’s school buildings, ended “social promotions,” evaluated teachers based on their students’ test scores, and hired people from outside the public sector to run the city’s education department. According to Bloomberg’s campaign website, his reforms led to a 42% increase in graduation rates, increased wages for teachers, and connected low-income students to free college counseling.

Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana:

Current Policies/Positions: Mayor Buttigieg’s “K-12 and Early Education” plan includes: making high-quality early learning opportunities affordable for all families and free for those who need it; reducing barriers to participation in high-quality care through safe transportation assistance; building a $10 billion equity fund to “bridge opportunity gaps”; expanding access to dual language curriculum in early education; coordinating early learning programs with other support programs like WICSNAP, and CHIP; expanding research on child development; tripling funding for Title I schools and reversing inequitable funding structures; increasing racial integration of schools and neighborhoods; reinstating Obama-era guidance to address discipline disparities; reducing the use of exclusionary discipline; directing the Department of Education to “issue guidance on non-punitive alternatives like restorative justice”; banning for-profit charter schools; making public charter schools equally accountable; fully funding the IDEA; investing in bilingualism and biliteracy; investing in the Bureau of Indian Education; empowering the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to fully investigate violations of Title VITitle IX, and IDEA; promoting equity by collecting data on student experiences; investing in rural school transportation; investing in diversifying the teaching workforce; incentivizing states to prioritize safe and positive school climates; preparing students for the future economy; increasing federal support for community schools; ensuring access to summer learning and opportunities beyond the classroom; expanding access to mental health care in schools; reinstating the Office of Safe and Supportive Schools; training teachers and school staff to support children’s social and emotional development; supporting LGBTQ+ students and educators; reducing child poverty; guaranteeing universal health coverage for children and families; and ending child homelessness.

Track Record: Mayor Buttigieg does not have a policy record on education. While he has admitted that he was “slow to realize” that schools in South Bend were segregated, “Indiana law specifies that school districts are independent of the cities and mayor’s offices.”

Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawai’i

Current Policies/Positions: Congresswoman Gabbard’s campaign site includes a page on “Education and Teachers” which states that, “we need to make sure we are investing in the future of all of our children. In order to invest in our future, we have to provide adequate resources and meaningful accountability to ensure that all our students have equal access to quality education.” However, this page does not include any specific policy information or plans.

Track Record: Congresswoman Gabbard’s track record includes: supporting the Every Student Succeeds Act and reauthorizing the Native Hawaiian Education Act.

Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Klobuchar’s “School ‘Progress Partnerships’” plan involves cooperation between federal and state governments “that will allow states to take aggressive action to support our students.” To participate in the “Progress Partnership” states must increase teacher pay; adapt high school curricula to improve workforce readiness; create a mechanism for distributing federal school infrastructure funding that addresses disparities in conditions and resources; work with educators to develop and submit recommendations on how schools can meet the needs of working families; and convene a commission to review the state’s existing funding formula to improve equity. Klobuchar’s “first 100 days” plan also includes: reducing racial disparities in school discipline; fully funding the IDEA; reinstating documents protecting the rights of students with disabilities; preventing the expansion of private school vouchers; and restoring protection for the LGBTQ community.

Track Record: Senator Klobuchar’s track record includes co-sponsoring the Child Care for Working Families Act, fighting for Minnesota to receive the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, supporting the Strong Start for America’s Children Act and the Head Start for School Readiness Act. Klobuchar also supported the Every Student Succeeds Act and increased funding for IDEA grants.

Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

Current Policies/Positions: Senator Sanders’ “A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” includes: building on the Strength in Diversity Act to increase federal funding for “community-driven strategies to desegregate schools”; tripling Title I funding; appointing federal judges who will enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act in schools; addressing disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact children of color; fully funding the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights; funding school transportation; increasing funding for public magnet schools; increasing access to English as a Second Language instruction; banning for-profit charter schools; supporting the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter schools; making charter schools accountable; ensuring schools in rural and indigenous communities receive equitable funding; strengthening the IDEA; investing $5 billion to expand access to summer and after-school programming; providing free universal school meals and expanding summer EBT; allocating $5 billion in annual funding for community schools; passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law; protecting and enforcing Title IX; and ensuring immigrant children and their families “are free from harassment and surveillance at school, regardless of their immigration status.”

Track Record: According to Sanders’ Senate page, “When the Senate reauthorized the Head Start program in 2007, Senator Sanders worked closely with teachers, parents, and administrators to make sure that the bill expanded eligibility criteria, increased funding for the program, and provided greater flexibility to use funds for Early Head Start (ages 0-3) programming.” Sanders was also an “opponent of the standardized testing regimen” put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act and supported the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Tom Steyer, Philanthropist

Current Policies/Positions: Steyer’s education plan includes: doubling the federal investment in pre-K-12 education “to equalize educational resources and learning opportunities”; free universal pre-K; expanding the Early Head Start program for kids under age three; tripling Title I funding; committing to cutting the high school dropout rate in half by the end of his first term; launching the Every Child Reads Initiative; revitalizing civic education and engagement; increasing funding to states to double the number of mental health professionals on campus; supporting locally-led school desegregation efforts; investing in a network of 25,000 community schools by 2025; increasing the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals; freezing charter school expansion and increasing accountability; fully funding the IDEA; providing a tutor to every struggling student; discouraging zero-tolerance policies; and funding research to better understand and improve student mental health.

Track Record: Steyer does not have a legislative track record on education.

Bill Weld, Former Governor of Massachusetts

Current Policies/Positions: Weld’s education policy includes: supporting charter schools and school choice, including public school vouchers; enabling homeschooling options; and promoting religious freedom in education.

Track Record: As Governor of Massachusetts, Weld “put an extra seven billion dollars into state funding of local education, which equalized spending across districts.” His education reforms included high-stakes tests in fourth, eighth, and tenth grades in order for students to move up to the next grade and an end to “social” graduation diplomas. During his governorship, Weld also founded the “Governor’s Commission on LGBTQ Youth” and “launched what is believed to be the first statewide effort to train teachers to help” LGBTQ+ students.

Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts

Current Policies/Platforms: Senator Warren’s education plans include: replacing Betsy DeVos with a “Secretary of Education who has been a public school teacher, believes in public education, and will listen to our public school teachers, parents, and students”; quadrupling Title I funding; improving the way the federal government allocates new Title I funding; commiting an additional $20 billion a year to IDEA grants; helping 25,000 schools transition to the community school framework by 2030; investing an additional $100 billion over ten years in “excellence grants” to any public school; fully funding the Bureau of Indian Education; desegregating residential communities and schools; strengthening Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; expanding the private right of action under Title VI to “cover claims of disparate impact against states and school districts”; reinstating and funding the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights; improving federal data collection to improve outcomes; writing new rules “to help ensure that students of color with disabilities are treated fairly”; upholding the right to a fair and appropriate public education for students in juvenile detention; pushing for the enactment of the Safe Schools Improvement Act; reinstating guidance about transgender students’ rightsunder Title IX; affirming and enforcing federal protections under Title IX for student survivors of sexual harassment and assault; protecting English Language Learners; ensuring immigrant children have access to quality education regardless of their native language or immigration status; free high-quality universal pre-K; eliminating high-stakes testing; pushing for the cancellation of all existing student meal debt; increasing federal funding to provide free student meals; closing the mental health provider gap in schools; ensuring police officers in schools are properly trained on discrimination, youth development, and de-escalation tactics; ending zero-tolerance discipline policies; encouraging schools to adopt restorative justice programs; pushing to issue guidance to limit the use of discriminatory dress codes; establishing more school-based health centers; expanding the implementation of comprehensive, culturally relevant curriculum and Social Emotional Learning; addressing chronic absenteeism without punishing students or parents; increasing teacher diversity; ensuring existing charter schools are subject to the same levels of transparency and accountability as public schools; ending federal funding for the expansion of charter schools; and banning for-profit charter schools.

Track Record: Warren’s track record includes sponsoring or co-sponsoring: the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2019Strength in Diversity Act of 2019Keep Our Promises to America’s Children and Teachers ActCreating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2019Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers ActSafe Schools Improvement Act of 2019BASIC Act, College Student Hunger Act, Closing the College Hunger Gap Act, Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, Patsy T. Mink and Louise M. Slaughter Gender Equity in Education Act of 2019, and the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act.


Thanks for Tuning In

The issue areas highlighted in this series are particularly and uniquely important to the lives and opportunities afforded to girls and gender-expansive youth and were identified through an assessment of various advocate resources, news reports, and research. Information presented here on the candidates’ current positions was gathered from what they have committed to in writing on their respective websites–primarily focused on their published policy platforms rather than their interviews with the news media, social media posts, or debate responses. Information about candidates’ track records was compiled via the sources linked within this newsletter. Candidate’s platforms and records are listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of any candidates’ platform or track record, and we encourage folx to explore these issues further, as this is neither a full assessment nor an endorsement of any political party or candidate. Next week’s edition will focus on a different issue area and will be released on Tuesday.

Please feel free to reach out to Natalia Orozco with any corrections, questions, or suggestions for improvement at

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