Today, more than 60 years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision ending legal segregation in our public schools, and 50 years after President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law, poor and minority students are still not afforded the same education as their wealthier, and often whiter counterparts. This is not only unjust and immoral, it endangers our democracy.
I’m running for president to restore the promise that every child, regardless of his or her background, has a right to a high-quality public education.
Growing inequality is both the cause and the effect of our nation’s desperately underfunded public school system. Many public schools are severely racially segregated—in some parts of the country, worse than before the Brown decision. With funding for public schools in steep decline, students in low-income areas are forced to learn in decrepit buildings and endure high rates of teacher turnover. Public school teachers are severely underpaid and lack critical resources, and their professional experience is being undermined by high stakes testing requirements that drain resources and destroy the joy of learning.
Meanwhile, resource-rich private schools spend tens of thousands of dollars more per child than public schools do. They are predominantly white or intentionally diversified, and enjoy the best that money can buy—from state of the art facilities to well-paid, highly skilled teachers.
With the vast challenges facing our education system, billionaire philanthropists, Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers are attempting to privatize our education system under the banner of “school choice.” We must act to transform our education system into a high-quality public good.
- We must make sure that charter schools are accountable, transparent and truly serve the needs of disadvantaged children, not Wall Street, billionaire investors, and other private interests.
- We must ensure that a handful of billionaires don’t determine education policy for our nation’s children.
- We will oppose the DeVos-style privatization of our nation’s schools and will not allow public resources to be drained from public schools.
- We must guarantee childcare and universal pre-Kindergarten for every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.
- We must increase pay for public school teachers so that their salary is commensurate with their importance to society. And we must invest in high-quality, ongoing professional development, and cancel teachers’ student debt.
- We must protect the tenure system for public school teachers and combat attacks on collective bargaining by corporate profiteers.
- We must put an end to high-stakes testing and “teaching to the test” so that our students have a more fulfilling educational life and our teachers are afforded professional respect.
We must guarantee children with disabilities an equal right to high-quality education, and increase funding for programs that combat racial segregation and unfair disciplinary practices that disproportionately affect students of color.