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
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.