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By Todd Brantley, covering the 8pm debate

It was a crowded stage for the 8:00pm main event of this evening’s GOP presidential debate, and Donald Trump was dead center, sometimes more as a topic than a participant.

Trump and the ten other candidates — Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina — sparred on domestic and international issues ranging from the spread of ISIS to the minimum wage to the legalization of marijuana.

But in a grueling three-hour long debate that was at times boisterous and at other times humorous, there was no discussion of federal education policy or the candidates’ own education platforms.

Tonight’s debate did not include a single question on education policy from the CNN moderators. 

During the first debate, Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush engaged in an exchange on the issue of Common Core. If the Bush-Rubio exchange qualifies as “some” discussion of education in the first debate, tonight’s included none.

Other than as an aside or cloaked in a jab at another candidate, the issue of education was absent in the marathon debate that at times felt like it touched on everything else, including potential secret service code names.

We’ll see if that changes at the next Republican presidential debate on October 28th at the University of Colorado at Boulder. That debate will be broadcast on CNBC.

The first Democratic presidential debate takes place October 13th in Las Vegas and will be broadcast on CNN.


By Alex Granados, covering the 6pm debate

A group of Republican underdogs in the race for president met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library tonight, each one eager to showcase why he is the right person to lead this nation after Barack Obama. 

Rick Santorum, Lindsey GrahamBobby Jindal, and George Pataki hit the stage for the not-quite-prime-time 6 p.m. debate broadcast by CNN, while the top 11 candidates battled at 8 p.m.

The big draw in the GOP 2016 presidential race is business icon and former reality-TV star Donald Trump. But while he was not physically on stage at 6, his presence was very much felt by the candidates. The very first question, in fact, was to Jindal, asking him why he publicly attacked Trump earlier this month. 

Jindal was unapologetic.

“He’s not a conservative. He is not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an Independent. He believes in Donald Trump,” Jindal said. 

But here at EducationNC, we cover — you guessed it — education. So, what did the candidates have to say about schools in the United States? 

Nothing. 

Hopefully the 8 p.m. crowd will do better. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.

Todd Brantley

Todd Brantley is the senior director of public affairs at The Rural Center. He formerly served as director of policy and research at EducationNC.

He grew up in Randolph County where he attended Farmer Elementary School, Randleman Middle School, and Randleman High School. Todd attended Randolph Community College before graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995. He received a master’s in theological studies from Duke Divinity School in 2002 and a master’s from the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2009.

Prior to his work at The Rural Center and EducationNC, Todd also worked as the associate communications director at MDC providing strategic communications support for several programs, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Partners for Postsecondary Success and the Developmental Education Initiative. Todd was part of the writing and research team that produced the 2010 and 2011 State of the South reports. While a graduate student, he interned at The Story with Dick Gordon and was the editor of The Fountain, the alumni magazine for the Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

He was part of the research and writing team that received the Governmental Research Association’s 2014 Most Distinguished Research Award for a report on the use of telepsychiatry in rural areas. He was a co-author of How the Triangle Gives Back, a 2008 report that examined local philanthropic and charitable giving in the Research Triangle region. His writing and research has appeared in the Daily Yonder; Insight, a publication of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research; and NC DataNet, a publication of The Program on Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A native of North Carolina, Todd currently splits his time between Raleigh and Pikeville, where he helps maintain his wife’s family’s farm. He says, “As a product of this state’s systems of public education, from secondary, to the community college system, to our public postsecondary system, I have seen firsthand how important these institutions are for the social and economic wellbeing of this state and its citizens. Regardless of whether you are a new resident or a native, a parent or not, we all benefit from the fruits of our current system of public learning, and the hard work and foresight of those who came before us who understood that, regardless of political affiliation, North Carolina needed to be a national leader in access to quality education for everyone.”