Bernie Sanders’ Education Plan Would End Racial Discrimination and Charter Schools

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled a plan to shake up the American education system during a speech in Orangeburg, South Carolina on May 18. Sanders’ plan was announced on the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling that deemed racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

The progressive 10-point proposal, named A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, calls for a fight against racial discrimination and school segregation. Sanders noted that Black students are much more likely to face disciplinary action at school, which in turn places them at greater risk of falling behind and becoming involved with the justice system.

To combat racial discrimination, Sanders vowed to triple Title 1 funding and execute desegregation orders in order to fight racial discrimination in education. He also promised to address disciplinary practices at schools, fund school transportation to help integration, and increase funding for public magnet 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 during his speech, 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.” Sanders also called for an end to for-profit charter schools, which he accused of disproportionately affecting communities of color. “Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system,” the Senator wrote in his plan.

The presidential hopeful’s plan would require charter schools to comply with the same oversight requirements as public schools, and force those institutions to disclose student attrition rates, non-public funding sources, financial interests, and other information. Charter schools would be required to match employment practices with neighboring district schools.

The Obama administration and Democrats have previously supported charter schools, The New York Times reported. Fellow presidential contender, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), is a strong proponent of charter schools. In a 2018 interview, Booker said that his loyalties were to free public school and high-quality public school education and that charter and magnet schools could be part of that.

Sanders also proposed a minimum salary of $60,000 a year for teachers, which would be tied to the cost of living. His plan would triple the above-the-line tax deduction for educator expenses and index it to inflation in order to reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

An April 2018 poll by The Associated Press (AP)/NORC Center found that nearly 90 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans believe teachers are underpaid. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that teacher salaries across the country have decreased 1.6 percent between 2000 and 2017 when adjusting for inflation. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another 2020 presidential hopefuls, proposed a similar education plan that would see teacher pay increase by 23 percent, CNN reported. Education plans by other Democratic candidates would tackle the student loan debt crisis, funding for historically Black colleges and universities, public college and university tuition, and develop a federally funded prekindergarten program.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.