Next Saturday, December 14, some assortment of Democratic Presidential hopefuls will offer their two cents about education. The crowd will be an invitation-only group of about a thousand public education stakeholders, including yours truly. The Network for Public Education kindly gave me the chance to attend this event, and I am looking forward to it.
If you are not among the thousand invitees, you can still catch the evens as they unfold on several streaming options. NBC News Now, MSNBC.com and NBC News Learn are all supposed to be carrying it, with MSNBC doing some coverage of it throughout their programming.
You can also head to this page for a look. If nothing else, I'm sure many of us will be tweeting along madly throughout the day (find me at @palan57).
Right now most of the big names are expected (though not, as of the moment, Booker or Bloomberg). Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Harris had expected to attend but then, well...).
Do I think amazing, momentous things are going to happen? I do not--any candidate who cant get his message locked and loaded for this particular crowd has to be exceptionally dense. The format doesn't allow for many surprises-- candidates talk, moderators ask stuff, crowd (or at least carefully selected members thereof) get to ask questions, rinse and repeat.
But I'm excited the thin is even happening. Remember 2016? You may recall that Campbell Brown set up The74 in hopes of using it to be a player, even a kingmaker, around the hot topic of education. Jeb Bush was poised to use his Florida education record as launch fuel. The74 intended to host two big education fora--one for each party. But the NH forum for the GOP pulled only six candidates out of the clown car field of something-teen (Bush, Kasich, Fiorina, Christie, Jindal, and Walker, and you'd already forgotten a couple of those people had even run, hadn't you). The GOP forum was just a big sloppy wet kiss for school choice and it didn't really matter because by that point it was clear that not one of those six was ever going to be setting national policy for anything. The Democrats snubbed Brown entirely, which didn't matter because none of them could muster anything more robust than "Pre-k is good, we should do it" and "College shouldn't be so expensive." They might eventually dip their toes in the K-12 charter pool, but it was all pretty weak sauce.
Pre-2016, name a single national election in which education was a big enough deal to merit the candidates sitting down to jaw about it.
So even if no news breaks, it's news that major candidates are going to perform some greatest education hits in front of an education audience.
Personally, I've never been to a big time political circus like this (I was at a coffee house meet-and-greet with Pat Toomey once) so I am looking forward to seeing the candidates live and in person, not to mention the chance to say hi to some of my favorite education folks. If I get to ask a question, that would be icing on the cake.
Later this week I'll make my predictions about the forum, once the candidate list is a little more firmed up. Block out your day next Saturday (because eleven days before Christmas, you're probably not super-busy or anything). I think it's going to be a great time.