To run for the 2020 presidential election, Bernie Sanders unveils education policy plan. This plan includes a salary floor for public school teachers, the end of for-profit charter schools, access to summer school programs and guaranteed free school meals for students. So far, these are his promises and his plan, but the how behind it has not been detailed yet.
Sanders’ message is clear: education is a social justice issue. At its current state, it creates discrimination, important social and economic gaps that have real long-term consequences. It should not be a business, but an equal opportunity for all students. For this reason, Sanders vowed to combat racial discrimination and school segregation.
In his speech in Orangeburg, South Carolina, he spoke loud and clear: ”Every child has a right to quality K-12 education, regardless of your race, regardless of your income, and regardless of your zip code”. His fight is also to end the ”devasting education funding cuts” that were used to pay for ”massive tax breaks” for a few corporates and billionaires.
In addition, the Vermont senator proposed that the teacher salary floor is of $60,000. Often teachers cannot adequately plan their courses because of a lack of material or enough money. Make teachers decide to buy school supplies with their own salary to be able to properly teach and give students the chance to learn better.
The senator also valued the importance of quality meals in schools by offering free breakfast and snacks to public school students. Many students go to school with an empty stomach which has important repercussions on their attention in class and ability to learn. He promised to spend at least $5 billion a year for after-school classes, summer programs and more.
It was a confident Bernie Sanders that spoke in Orangeburg on Saturday. His speech also happened on the anniversary weekend of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The decision of that historic day ruled that segregation in public school was unconstitutional. Although we have come a long way from these days, there is still so much left to do. This segregation although not visually apparent, in many ways is still very much present in terms of the opportunities students have based on their race and economic status.
Randi Weingarten, the president of American Federation of Teachers, called his proposal ”vitally important” in a statement to CNN. She further added that ”for the last decades, the unregulated growth of private charter schools has siphoned off money from public schools”. In her view, Bernie Sander’s educational plan takes on real and tangible steps towards change by making the charter school industry accountable to parents and the public.
On the other hand, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter schools has an opposite view. She claims that charter schools ”has helped thousands of children in at-risk situations”. Sanders continues to stand by the same facts for decades, in his view ”it’s time for Donald Trump and the top 1% to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes than they are today”.
This educational proposal on Saturday comes at a time when Sanders poll results show a drop of 6 points with Vice President Joe Bidden coming in first.