Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan for our nation’s public schools would be a game changer for our public schools and the 90 percent of America’s students who attend them. Like so many of the other candidates’ education plans we have praised, this one is bold and thorough and lays out tangible steps and resources that are critical for all students to thrive. What distinguishes this plan is that it is obvious it’s drawn through the lens of someone who has spent time as a teacher in a classroom.
Warren’s plan would provide a much-needed jolt of investment in America’s public schools. It is focused, first and foremost, on creating and cultivating the vibrant, safe and welcoming environments kids deserve, and on providing educators the voice and supports they need as professionals to help their students learn and thrive. That is why her proposal to strengthen collective bargaining is so important.
Quadrupling funding for schools serving children who live in poverty, keeping the original promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to children with special needs, and investing in 25,000 community schools that meet the social and emotion needs of children and serve as neighborhood hubs would be transformational. We have been calling for these kinds of community schools for over a decade, and this proposal would be a massive tipping point for meeting the needs of all our children, particularly those in rural and urban areas. So too would the plan’s investment in school infrastructure, which would ensure that students and teachers are not forced to endure lead in their drinking water, buckling floors or other unsafe conditions in school that hurt teaching and learning.
Warren’s plan rightly elevates the rights of teachers to come together and use their voice to advocate for what their students need, like the educators in Chicago are doing right now. It would ensure educators are not burdened by student loan debt. It’s a plan focused on supporting students from birth to college and career, and on supporting teachers throughout their careers through “grow-your-own” programs—which allow teachers to come up from within their communities and learn from other great teachers—and through increased opportunities for collaboration and quality professional development.
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. It puts checks and balances in place to combat the effort by corporate interests to privatize and monetize our public schools. And the Warren plan stops charter schools from having a competitive advantage over public schools by, among other things, not serving disadvantaged kids, by ending discriminatory practices. It allows school districts to serve as charter authorizers, holding charters to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools, ending discriminatory practices, considering the financial impact and strain on resources being used for charters, banning for-profit charters and ending federal funding for expansion of charters. It categorically rejects the DeVos agenda to divert much-needed resources from our public schools by rejecting for-profit charters and vouchers of any form.
With a focus on equity and excellence for every child and every school, this a transformational plan would enable educators to have the resources and agency and training to do the jobs we love. It would help us fulfill the promise and potential of public education as the foundation of our democracy and the great equalizer of opportunity in our nation.
The AFT has also praised the education plans of many of the 2020 presidential candidates, including plans by Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Kamala Harris and Secretary Julián Castro.
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