By Camille Respess, Chalkbeat
On the heels of his criticism of Sen. Kamala Harris and former vice president Joe Biden’s exchange on school integration at last week’s Democratic primary debate, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet isn’t calling for new efforts to integrate American schools.
But, at the debate, after Harris was asked by a moderator if she and Biden shared the same view on school integration (she said no), Bennet, a former Denver schools superintendent, chimed in to point out that school segregation is not just an issue of the past.
“This is the fourth debate that we have had and the second time that we have been debating what people did 50 years ago with busing when our schools are as segregated today as they were 50 years ago,” he said. “We need a conversation about what is happening now. And when there’s a group of kids in this country who don’t get pre-school through no fault of their own and another who does, equal is not equal.”
In an attempt to capture this moment, the presidential hopeful went to South Carolina on Tuesday for a day of education-focused events. He visited the state’s “Corridor of Shame,” an area where schools are known for meager student achievement and inequitable school funding. While there, Bennet said he was driven by concern about inequities in education to join in the crowded pool of 2020 presidential hopefuls.
Bennet, who is currently polling at less than 1% and has yet to release an education platform, spoke with Chalkbeat on Thursday about his education plans, which include universal pre-K and debt-free college. But he’s not offering up specifics on how he’d make schools less segregated.