After including proposals to ensure a safe and equitable learning environment for students across the country into a number of her policy outlines, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday tied her vision for America’s public schools together with a comprehensive plan to give every child access to “high-quality public education—no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or how much money their parents make.”
The Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate’s plan aims to tackle persistent school segregation, which continues 65 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision; end the growth of charter schools and voucher programs which pull public dollars from neighborhood schools; and pump tens of billions of dollars into low-income schools across the country.
Warren’s education plan focuses on five main goals:
As president, Warren would inject an additional $450 billion into the Title I funding program for low-income schools, quadrupling federal investment in those schools.
The additional investment would be used to enforce transparency and push states to adopt progressive tax structures, something only 11 states have done.
“It’s a stark reversal of years of austerity and failed quick-fix reforms that have defunded public schools, hollowed out the teaching force, prioritized testing over learning, and failed to meet the needs of our children and the promise of public education.”
—Randi Weingarten, AFT”I’ve long been concerned about the way that school systems rely heavily on local property taxes, shortchanging students in low-income areas and condemning communities caught in a spiral of decreasing property values and declining schools,” Warren wrote. “I would condition access to this additional Title I funding on states chipping in more funding, adopting more progressive funding formulas, and actually allocating funding consistently with these new formulas.”
On top of Warren’s plan to upgrade America’s schools with increased energy efficiency, the senator would also commit at least $50 billion to repairing school infrastructure.
Warren plans to aggressively enforce rules barring neighborhoods from seceding from their school districts and creating new districts—something at least 128 districts have done since 2000.
“These ‘breakaway’ districts are often wealthier and whiter than the district they leave behind and typically result in massive funding inequities between the new district and the old one,” Warren wrote.
As Rachel Cohen suggested at The Intercept, Warren’s focus on making sure low-income and majority-black or Latinx schools receive adequate funding was a political calculation that could contribute to a shift her base:
Warren would also strengthen Title VI, the portion of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits racial discrimination in schools, by expanding students’ and parents’ rights to challenge systemic inequality—not just intentional discrimination.
In addition to protections for LGBTQ students, Warren plans to ensure that schools are safe environments for low-income students.
On the heels of news reports about a New Jersey school district that proposed banning students with lunch debt from field trips and proms, the senator wrote that she would “cancel all existing student meal debt and increase federal funding to school meals programs so that students everywhere get free breakfast and lunch.”
Warren would also work to make sure no schools are closed, teachers are fired, or other “high stakes decisions” are made based on standardized test scores. Instead, Warren would “encourage schools to use authentic assessments that allow students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways.”
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