"I have to address the elephant that's not in the room."

It was slightly awkward Tuesday when Caroline Hendrie, executive director of the Education Writers Association, opened a panel on education and the 2016 presidential election.

The Donald Trump campaign wasn't able to find anyone to participate.

"We worked aggressively in the past months to recruit someone — a policymaker, an education analyst, an advocate," Hendrie said. "We tried every channel that we could think of, and that included, of course, the Trump campaign itself and the Republican National Committee."

Despite all that effort, no one could be found to speak on Trump's behalf when it comes to education.

"I think it's a question of timing as much as anything," Hendrie said, noting that Congress is on recess and much of Washington, D.C., is out of town.

The panel featured Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association; Shavar Jeffries, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform; and Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether Education Partners.

Though they have differences with each other on a few education issues, like charter schools, Eskelsen Garcia and Jeffries are Clinton supporters.

Smarick is a Republican, but doesn't support Trump. He said much of that has to do with Trump's vague positions on education. "I don't know what he stands for on these issues," Smarick said. "Occasionally he'll mention something about school choice, which I think is terrific. But when it comes to standards and assessments, and low-income kids and gifted kids, I just don't know."

Smarick said he's been told the Trump campaign may release a detailed plan in the next week.

There are seven detailed policy plans on Trump's website, ranging from reforms to the Veterans Administration to how to pay for a wall on the southern border. None focus on education.

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.