Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Monday unveiled her public education proposal, which includes halting the “privatization” of public schools, stopping vouchers, enhancing protections for illegal immigrant students, and quadrupling Title I funding.
While there are many facets to Warren’s plan, she devotes a significant section to combating the “privatization” of public schools. It is necessary, Warren says, to “resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools.” She continued:
To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools. Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color.
Because of that, Warren is calling for the end of vouchers, tuition tax credits, and federally-funded expansions of charter schools. She also calls for a full ban of for-profit charter schools.
“We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits – which are vouchers by another name,” she wrote.
“We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools,” she added.
That stands in contrast with the position Warren took in the past, particularly ahead of her 2012 senatorial campaign. She actually championed vouchers and assessed that they “take pressure off parents” in terms of having to purchase homes in neighborhoods zoned for desirable schools. She added that vouchers encourage competition and produce results, creating something “parents can buy into and believe in.”
Warren also painted a dire picture of a public education system, where both segregation and discrimination are, she believes, running rampant.
“But broad public affirmation of the Brown v. Board of Education decisions in the 1950s and recent debates about historical desegregation policies have obscured an uncomfortable truth – our public schools are more segregated today than they were about thirty years ago,” Warren claimed, weaving in her “Housing Plan for America” as a viable solution for these issues and ignoring her past calls for vouchers, which 2011 Warren suggested would help remedy the disparity.
Additionally, the presidential hopeful’s plan enhances protections for illegal immigrant students, calling the Trump administration’s immigration policies “inhumane” and attributing them to the increase of fear among illegal immigrant families. She said:
Immigration makes America stronger – economically, socially, and culturally. But because of the Trump Administration’s inhumane immigration policies, many immigrant students are afraid to go to school, and many families living in the shadows are afraid to access resources like free school lunch. I would end the Trump’s Administration’s monstrous policies and enact immigration reform that is fair, humane, and reflects our values. I will ensure immigrant students don’t get second-class status by being directed into GED programs instead of classrooms. I will protect sensitive locations like schools from immigrant enforcement actions. And I’ll recommit OCR to upholding and enforcing Plyler v. Doe – which the Trump administration has tried to undermine – so that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no matter their native language, national origin, immigration status, or educational history.
She also promises to affirm the rights of LGBT students by reinstating the “guidance revoked under Trump about transgender students’ rights under Title IX, and make clear that federal civil rights law prohibits anti-LGBTQ+ rules like discriminatory dress codes, prohibiting students from writing or discussing LGBTQ+ topics in class, or punishing students for bringing same-sex partners to school events.”
In another section, Warren pledges to push a guidance that would “limit the use of discriminatory dress codes targeting student dress and hairstyle,” which she says leads to “students of color losing valuable learning time and Muslim students being denied participation in school activities.”
Warren’s plan also proposes the cancelation of student breakfast and lunch debt, as well as free school meals and free universal pre-K, which she has said she would pay for via her “wealth tax.”
“It’s time to live up to the promise of a high-quality public education for every student,” Warren wrote. “My plan makes big, structural changes that would help give every student the resources they need to thrive.”