At mainland forum, Hawaii teachers get chance to question presidential candidates

Published: Jul. 5, 2019 at 6:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Hawaii teachers were among dozens of educators who grilled ten of the leading presidential candidates in Houston on Friday.

They were part of the National Education Association’s presidential forum, whose participants included former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris, (D-Calif.), and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.).

Mirielle Ellsworth of Waiakea High School had the first opportunity to pose a question. She asked Sanders if he would raise teachers’ pay if he got elected.

“The proposal I have brought forward on comprehensive education says that every teacher in America should earn at least $60,000 a year,” Sanders answered.

Ellsworth said she was impressed by his response.

“He linked his overall message he’s been saying for years and years of teacher pay and teacher shortages," she said. “$60,000 is more than I’ve ever made in my 20 years of teaching."

Ilima Intermediate School teacher Vickie Parker Kam asked Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) about gun violence. Kamala Harris responded to the same question later in the forum.

“I will take executive action and put in place what will be the first comprehensive, universal, background check requirement. I will require that we take the licenses of gun dealers, and I will ban the importation of assault weapons into our country,” she said.

“I can see that’s something that’s really important to her, and she’s prepared to implement immediate steps,” Kam said.

The NEA said neither Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) nor President Donald Trump returned the questionnaire required to be invited to the forum.

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