In a not-so-subtle attack on charter schools, Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled a new public education plan for his 2020 presidential campaign this weekend.
Sanders, who is strongly against the charter school system which he says “has disproportionately affected communities of color,” calls for a moratorium on federal funding for the schools. Plain and simple, Sanders believes that “We do not need two schools systems; we need to invest in our public schools system.”
Titled “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education“, after the lawyer who helped end racial segregation of public schools via the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, the plan features ten goals for fixing the U.S. education system:
- Combating Racial Discrimination and School Segregation
- End the Unaccountable Profit-Motive of Charter Schools
- Equitable Funding for Public Schools
- Strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Give Teachers a Much-Deserved Raise and Empower them to Teach
- Expand After-School/Summer Education Programs
- Universal School Meals
- Community Schools
- School Infrastructure
- Make Schools a Safe and Inclusive Place for All
“The United States, as the wealthiest country in history, should have the best education system in the world. Today, in a highly competitive global economy, if we are going to have the kind of standard of living that the people of this country deserve, we need to have the best educated workforce. But let me be very honest with you, and tell you that, sadly, that is not the case today,” writes Sanders.
Currently, the United States ranks 30 out of the 35 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for math and 19th in science. Students of color often have scores even lower.
Sanders’ plan would require that charter schools are subject tot he same oversight as public schools. In the past charter schools have been supported heavily by Democrats but have come under fire from many progressive lawmakers.
Senator Sanders also points out the “many U.S. schools remain unacceptably segregated,” and that due to “implicit racial bias” black youth are not only more likely to be suspended than white students, but are at greater risk of becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.
In the past few years, the United States has seen a number of teacher strikes across the country, with educators demanding higher salaries and better funding. Sanders’ plan calls for a baseline of $60,000 for teachers’ starting salaries.
The plan also calls for better funding for after-school programs, teen centers, tutoring, dental and mental health care, substance abuse prevention, community and youth organizing, job training classes, art spaces, GED, and ESL classes. It also ensures that “schools in rural communities, indigenous communities, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories receive equitable funding.”
Watch Sanders introduce the plan below: