Bernie Sanders has released A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, a detailed and bold suite of public education reforms reminiscent of the kinds of policy planks being laid down regularly by rival candidate Elizabeth Warren (I'm a donor to both Sanders' and Warren's campaigns).
The plan — a pun on the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after WWII — is also a tribute to Thurgood Marshall, the attorney who successfully argued for school desegregation in the landmark Brown v Board of Ed Supreme Court case. Given the name, it's no surprise that the centerpiece of the plan is a group of measures designed to increase racial integration in US schools, including funding for bussing, "community-driven" desegregation strategies, Title I grants, ESL instruction, improved outcomes for tribal schools, etc, as well as non-financial measures like appointing judges to issue desegregation orders, ending the disciplinary strategies that create the school-to-prison pipeline, etc.
Closely related is a commitment to curb public funding for Charter Schools, whose origins are in a backlash to Brown v Board of Ed, as a means of securing continued funding for racially segregated schools, by providing vouchers to parents to use to pay for tuition at private schools that practiced the discrimination that was banned in public schools by Brown.
Beyond tackling racial discrimination, Sanders' plan adds teeth and resources to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); increase teacher pay and autonomy, with more money for classroom supplies and more flexibility to adapt or ignore standardized curriculum; and increase access to school lunches, after-school care and summer care.
Finally, Sanders proposes a long-overdue cash infusion into school infrastructure, with money to rebuild and retrofit schools with energy efficiency measures; and he closes with a promise to restore and expand protections for LGBTQ kids.
Instead of pursuing their dreams of being an environmentalist, a teacher, a social worker, or an artist, too many Americans end up taking higher-paying jobs on Wall Street or as accountants or as corporate managers simply to pay back their student loans. We need environmentalists. We need people to take care of the poor. We need health care providers to choose to work in community health centers. We need good teachers. Each and every American must be able to get the education they need to match their skills and fulfill their dreams.
In fulfilling those dreams, we must make teaching a highly attractive profession again. Teachers have one of the toughest and most demanding jobs in America. Teachers have been the leaders in the fight to improve public schools, reduce class sizes, and provide every student with books, computers and safe, high quality schools. What encourages me and gives me so much hope about the future is that teachers across the country are standing up and saying enough is enough! The wealthiest people in America cannot have it all, while public schools all over America are falling apart.
Over the past year, tens of thousands of teachers across the country have gone on strike to demand greater investment in public education. The wave of teacher strikes throughout the country provides an historic opportunity to make the investments we desperately need to make our public education system the best in the industrialized world, not one of the poorest.
A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education [Bernie Sanders]
Bernie Sanders Unveils 'A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education' [Jessica Corbett/Common Dreams]