A Commitment to Public Education

Our education system is one of the most resilient public institutions the United States has ever created. Public schools can provide a model for what our society can achieve: free access to a necessary resource built through everyone pooling together and establishing education as a public good which is not for profit and not for sale.

Level the Playing Field Between Public Schools and Charters

Our collective investment in public schools is being undermined by the rich, who are trying to remake our education system to serve them with charter schools and other privatized models. I support the NAACP’s proposed moratorium on using public funds to open new charter schools while we rebuild our public schools, and I support a ban on all for-profit charter schools because the education of our children should not be an investment vehicle for the wealthy. We must address the inequities between charter schools and public schools, and I propose to accomplish this with mandates that the same oversight requirements should apply to all schools. I will also fight to ensure that charter school boards are at least 50% composed of teachers and parents rather than rich investors.

Invest in Public Schools

In addition to leveling the playing field between charters and public schools, we must invest more deeply in our public schools. I commit to tripling Title I funding so that struggling schools have the funding to improve and so that all students can access a quality education no matter their ZIP code. I also support funding arts, language, and music education programs because the working class deserves creative exploration and the valuable skills these fields impart. I will fight to establish a per-pupil spending floor, and I will push Congress to explore other funding models less reliant on property taxes to address the inequities in our schools based on the income of the surrounding areas. Finally, I believe public schools as an institution should reflect our values: we prioritize public education, sustainability, and innovation. I commit to fully close the gap in school infrastructure funding to renovate, modernize, and green the nation’s schools.

Follow the Leadership of Teachers and Pay Them More

We have seen in the last several years an astonishing movement of educators going on strike to make demands and win gains for their students and their communities. And we have seen that where the leadership of organized teachers is followed, public schools thrive. Teachers and support staff are closer than anyone else to the issues at the heart of public schools, and they know better than any Washington consultant or charter school CEO what must be done to fix these problems.

The greatest investment we can make into public schools is an investment directly into the wages of educators. I will fight to establish an annual pay floor of $60,000 for every single teacher in the US. I will advocate to bring teachers and teachers’ unions into the curriculum design process so that teachers have a hand in creating the lessons they teach. I also support Bernie Sanders’s call to increase educator diversity by establishing a dedicated fund for the creation and expansion of teacher-training programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.

End the Overreliance on Standardized Testing

In particular, I will fight to end the ridiculous overreliance on standardized testing in public schools. The preparation for these tests consumes at least a month each school year and does not result in authentic learning gains. Real teaching means preparing students to be problem solvers and to navigate the world as citizens in a democracy. Our schools are not “businesses in a competitive market” — they are centers of community where our children can learn and grow. I commit to advocating for a teacher-driven curriculum that ends the overreliance on standardized testing. I will also fight to end programs like the “Teacher Excellence Initiative” in Dallas that tie teacher salaries to students’ performance on tests.

Public Schools as Community Centers

Our public schools are centers of community, and we should invest in schools to build upon the strong foundations they provide. I pledge to expand funding to $5 billion every year for summer and after-school programs, tutoring, and teen centers. This funding will create community schools that are sustainable and provide wrap-around services for the well-being of students and their families. I will also fight to provide year-round, free school breakfast and lunch for all. I support legislation that will offer incentives to source food from local sources. I will also work to expand summer EBT across the country to ensure no student goes hungry during the summer.

Schools Free of Discrimination, Segregation, and Fear

The US education system has an ugly legacy of racism and exclusion, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge and address that history. The Strength in Diversity Act should be expanded with additional federal funding for community-driven strategies for desegregation. I pledge to fight for additional funding for busing and school transportation to facilitate integration and to end the prohibitions against busing currently in place. I commit to executing and enforcing existing desegregation orders, and I pledge to appoint federal judges who share that commitment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I will also fight to end funding penalties for schools that try to desegregate.

But other types of discrimination also plague our school system. I commit to expanding access to English as a Second Language instruction for children and I will also expand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) so that at least half of special education funding is provided by the federal government. I pledge to fight for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act which will protect LGBTQIA+ students’ rights. I am committed to the enforcement of Title IX to defend students against harassment, discrimination, and violence in all educational institutions. We must also dismantle the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipelines. I will fight to get police and ICE agents out of our schools to keep our children safe from harassment and surveillance regardless of race or immigration status.

Finally, I am committed to enacting comprehensive gun violence prevention laws to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and in our schools.

Strengthen Labor Rights for Teachers

The single most important way we can bring democracy to our public schools is by strengthening the democratic voices of teachers in their workplaces. I will fight to ban “Right to Work” and extend collective bargaining rights, and the right to strike, to all public sector workers nationwide. I also support unionization efforts in charter schools so long as they exist, as all workers deserve fair wages and decent working conditions and charter schools should be brought to the negotiating table to ensure these demands are met. And I will fight to win universal “Just Cause” employment laws protecting workers against wrongful firings.

Democratic Control of Our Schools

We should also ensure that every state has a democratically elected superintendent of public education, and I will work to affect this demand. In Texas, the governor-appointed Texas Education Agency commissioner is granted broad autonomy and can effectively replace an independent school district’s board with a hand-picked board of managers. In nearly all of these takeovers, the school district is majority students of color. I will work to end the ability of states to take power from democratically elected school boards through such mechanisms.

Defend School Autonomy Against Private Operators

I also pledge to ban mandated partnerships with private operators at the federal level. In Texas, SB1882 has mandated such partnerships for any school district having even a single campus that has been rated “improvement required” for five years. These partnerships undermine our governance of public schools, as school boards are required to give a significant level of authority to the private operators with respect to staffing, curriculum, and instructional decisions. Rather than putting struggling schools on a path to success, data shows these arrangements do not improve school performance and are in reality a form of patronage. They weaken labor protections for teachers and school staff by undermining the limited contractual protections that are in place and by removing the community’s ability to democratically govern their own schools. In Congress, I will fight against profit for private operators that comes at the expense of democracy in our schools.