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What the 2020 Presidential Candidates Are Doing About STEM Education and Diversity: Part 1

Written By: Max Evans

DISCLAIMER: This article does not represent the political views of either the writer or Reinvented Magazine, which does not endorse any specific political candidate, party or organization.

With the 2020 presidential primaries gearing up, Reinvented is publishing a series of articles reviewing different candidates’ positions, policies and public statements related to STEM education, diversity and inclusion. The series will look at candidates in alphabetical order, switching between Democratic candidates and Republican candidates throughout the series.

The articles will act not as exhaustive lists of every policy or public statement the candidate has said with regards to these issues but will provide insight into how that candidate approaches these issues.

Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet is a current United States Senator for Colorado and former Denver Public School superintendent. Bennet is a co-sponsor of the Fund for Innovation and Success in Higher Education (FINISH) act that would create educational innovation grants to increase access to higher education, among other measures.

In 2012, Bennet supported the creation of a Presidential Teachers Corps dedicated to STEM education, which was the model for President Obama’s STEM Teacher Corps, a program training 50 STEM teachers stationed around the country. In 2017, Bennet announced a grant for Colorado State Universities to study potato crop pathogens as part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Bennet wrote a letter to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, to improve racial diversity in clinical trials, ensuring that innovations will be safe for all patients and further advancing the medical field. In addition, he wrote a letter to Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Shaheen to urge them to not cut off funding to NASA’s educational programs, including the Space Grant and the Minority University Research and Education Project.

Joseph Biden

Joe Biden has served as the Vice President of the United States under Obama and as a U.S. senator of Delaware. As a senator, Joe Biden voted in favor of the Training Programs Bill, which extended funding for vocational-technical schools, adult training programs, and job training activities for disadvantaged youth.

Joe Biden in the past has approached the issue of diversity and inclusion in education by focusing on affordability. He voted for the National Service Bill in 1993 that provided grants to state and local governments to encourage young people and senior citizens to volunteer. These grants provided educational financial support for students, among other benefits for volunteers. Biden has also made several public statements in support for 16 years of free education for American students.

In New Hampshire, Biden called for the recruitment of 100,000 science and math teachers during his 2012 Vice Presidential campaign. These are positions Biden echoed in his latest campaign website.

Cory Booker

Cory Booker is the junior U.S. senator of New Jersey. He is a current sponsor of The Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2018, a bill that would simplify the financial aid process for students as well as make financial aid accessible to more students. Booker also has reintroduced The Debt-Free College Act into Congress, which would create incentives and grants to help students attend college debt-free and make attending college more accessible.

Booker has also written statements to the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, on issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity. Booker has called for a task force to study the impact of debt on students of color, create protections for minority students with disciplinary actions to ensure equal access to education and create a dual enrollment Pell grant program that would allow high school students to access college education sooner and more affordable.

Booker also called on DeVos to correct her statements on the potentiality of sending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to schools when she said it would be a local decision, stating the protections given to undocumented students under Plyer v. Doe in 1982

Booker had also announced 1.2 million dollars in NSF grants for Rowan University to train STEM teachers in Jersey schools to make science and technology education accessible to underprivileged districts. In 2017, Booker also announced 3.5 million dollars in grant money for Upward Bound, a program that provided secondary education access to underprivileged students in New Jersey.

For more information, the writer suggests the following websites: Vote Smart, Gov Track, and the NY Times Summary of political candidates.

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