Among politicos, education is not usually considered a top-tier issue in presidential elections. The issue tends to get overshadowed by other issues where the president is the obvious leader and decisionmaker—defense, security, climate change, health care, Social Security, and economic affairs. Education, in contrast, has been seen as a state and local issue. But times have changed, especially when it comes to Democratic primaries.
It is worth starting with a brief recap of the recent federal role in K-12 education. President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in 2001 represented an unprecedented increase in the federal role in K-12 education at the time. President Barack Obama increased the federal role even more—introducing $100 billion in federal education spending (prompted by the financial