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The K-12 Records of Some Mentioned as Hillary Clinton Running Mates

By Andrew Ujifusa — June 14, 2016 5 min read
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Unlike with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, it’s pretty easy to find wonky details about Hillary Clinton’s K-12 resume. So it will be relatively easy work to see, once the Democrats’ presumptive nominee decides on a vice presidential running mate, where and how that running mate’s record on education matches up with the former secretary of state’s.

Who are some of the names being bandied about as potential Clinton running mates, and what have they done with respect to public schools? You can find out below.

Julián Castro

Castro is U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He joined forces with Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx earlier this month to write a “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging leaders in education, housing and transportation to take action to promote socioeconomic and racial diversity.

For education leaders, the letter said, such action could include drawing school attendance boundaries that focus on providing “equal access to high-quality schools” and increasing the diversity of the surrounding communities; considering “safe passage” to schools when developing school sites; and work with transportation and housing communities to share more information about schools.

But in the education community, Castro is perhaps best known for his work to expand prekindergarten while mayor of San Antonio through an increase in the sales tax, which city voters approved in 2012. Castro spoke about the importance of education in a speech earlier the same year at the Democratic National Convention. Not every school district serving San Antonio students eagerly leaped aboard the pre-K expansion plan, however.

Castro also strove to increase access to higher education through his “Cafe College” initiative, which aims to provide various resources to help San Antonio students enter higher education.

Elizabeth Warren

One of the key words to know about Warren when it comes to education is “oversight.” Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, the Massachusetts Democrat serves on the Senate

education committee and has contributed to the debate surrounding the Every Student Succeeds Act, which Warren voted for back in December. Specifically, she’s been a major advocate for robust federal oversight when it comes to accountability and funding.

She and other Democratic senators wrote a letter making this case to the Education Department earlier this year.

But she might be best known for her strong views on student loans for higher education. For example, she’s been highly critical of how the department has approached student-loan fraud, specifically with respect to Navient, the company formerly known as Sallie Mae that holds millions of loans to students.

And she wants the government to be a tougher watchdog when it comes to monitoring for-profit colleges.

Bernie Sanders

Would Clinton pick her main rival for the Democratic nomination? If so, she’d be selecting a senator who, like Warren, serves on the Senate education committee. In fact, if Clinton wins the presidency and a few other pieces fall into place (not least of which would be Democrats taking control of the Senate), there’s a chance Sanders could end up being the committee chairman.

In any event, you can find out some key elements of Sanders’ education record from our 2016 election guide.

Like Warren, he voted for ESSA, but he gave a thumbs-down to the No Child Left Behind Act back in 2001. On the campaign trail, he proposed making public colleges and universities tuition-free. He’s been a skeptic of standardized tests. And he’s highlighted inequities in K-12 education—noting, for example, that black students are more likely to be suspended or taught by inexperienced teachers than their peers.

Back in April, Jane Sanders, the candidate’s wife, gave an interview to The Nation magazine in which she emphasized the need for teachers to be paid more, and the support they both shared for teachers’ unions.

Tim Kaine

The Democratic senator from Virginia is a big fan of career and technical education. In fact, he introduced an amendment making career and technical education a core subject to the Senate’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—ultimately, that provision became part of ESSA.

He also praised ESSA for including a provision allowing states to use Title IV money to teach students about safe relationships.

Kaine also served as the Democratic governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. Not long before he left office, he ordered a review of minority students’ participation in gifted academic programs. At the time, Kaine expressed concern that they were underrepresented in such programs.

"[I]t’s critical we assess any disproportionate barriers to enrollment so we can ensure students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate,” Kaine said in a statement in 2009.

Sherrod Brown

The Ohio Democratic senator doesn’t have a particularly lengthy K-12 resume compared to others. In 2012, he was part of a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers who urged

President Barack Obama’s administration not to forget about rural schools when awarding money from the Race to the Top competitive-grant program.

In 2011, Brown co-authored the “Ready for Schools Act” with former North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. The idea of the bill was “preparing elementary schools to educate all children.”

“A ‘ready’ elementary school has school principals and educators who understand and use developmentally appropriate curricula, assessments, and teaching practices; involves and engages families; and works cooperatively with the early-childhood programs for younger children to create a positive transition into the early grades of school,” a press release announcing the bill stated.

Among other things, the bill aimed to create a “positive environment” for children and classroom experiences that catered to the needs of each individual student. It also sought appropriate assignments for teachers and principals based on their degrees and certification.

Photos: San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012. J. Scott Applewhite/AP; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Ma., questions witnesses in April during a Senate Specials Committee on Aging. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP-File; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles as he is asked about running for president during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington last year. Carolyn Kaster/AP; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio speaks to members of the media after his meeting in April with Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP-File; Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., gives a ‘thumbs-up’ as he takes his seat at the head table for the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP-File.

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