Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Saturday his plans for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s education system that would pay teachers more and end for-profit charter schools.
Sanders, one of the leaders in a crowded field of Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for president, announced the 10-point plan during a speech in South Carolina marking the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling that desegregated public schools.
“Every child has a right to a quality K-12 education, regardless of your race, regardless of your income, and regardless of your zip code,” Sanders said, according to CNN. “For too long, we have seen devastating education funding cuts used to pay for massive tax breaks for a handful of corporations and billionaires. When we are in the White House, that greed is going to end.”
The senator from Vermont is calling his proposal the Thurgood Marshall Plan For Public Education & Educators. It aims to correct ongoing school segregation, which the Sanders campaign said is “worse than before the Brown decision” in some areas of the country.
The nation’s “poor and minority students are still not afforded the same education as their wealthier, and often whiter counterparts,” the campaign notes on its website. “This is not only unjust and immoral, it endangers our democracy.”
The plan would place a moratorium on public funding for the expansion of charter schools pending comprehensive studies, and would ban outright for-profit charter schools, which people like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other billionaires have been pushing to “privatize the public education system,” Sanders said, according to HuffPost.
About 15% of charter schools currently are for-profit.
The senator’s proposal also would increase funding for school desegregation efforts.
It would set teachers’ salaries at a minimum of $60,000 per year, adjusted for regional cost of living. An additional $5 billion would go toward expanding school services, including healthcare, mental healthcare, and job training. And the plan would provide free meals to all students.
Education reform has joined a slew of other issues being addressed by Democrats running for president in 2020. Last March, Sen. Kamala Harris became the first Democratic candidates to unveil an education plan, which proposes $315 billion to boost teachers’ salaries over 10 years. Under that plan, the average teacher would see a $13,500 pay increase during her first term, an increase of 23%. To pay for that, Harris would raise taxes on wealthy estates.
“We are a nation and a society that pretends to care about education. But not so much the education of other people’s children. We gotta deal with that,” Harris said in March, according to Vox.
Meanwhile, DeVos on Friday continued pushing for the privatization of the country’s public education system, comparing it to East Germany during the Cold War. She said “governments,” “unions,” and “associations of this and organizations of that” were like another “empire”—part of what she called an “education cabal”—holding students back.
“Students win with freedom,” she said.