(CN) — A day after her Democratic rival Joe Biden addressed the New York City teachers’ union, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren released a new plan to improve U.S. public education.
Warren, herself a product of Oklahoma public schools, a public university and a public law school, expressed frustration with what she sees as a skewed system.
“I believe in America’s public schools,” she the Massachusetts senator wrote in a Monday policy announcement. “And I believe that every kid in America should have the same access to a high-quality public education — no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or how much money their parents make.”
Like Biden, Warren promised to replace current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, whose family is estimated to be worth $5.4 billion, with a former classroom teacher. Warren said she would also put an end to the privatization of public schools — a cause DeVos champions.
Using her proposed 2-cent wealth tax, Warren said she would invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the nation’s public schools. Warren has long citicized the reliance on property taxes to fund such schools, saying the practice furthers the wealth and quality gaps in education. She would quadruple Title I federal funding, which supports students from low-income backgrounds, to a total of $450 billion over the next 10 years, as well as make sure it is distributed fairly.
Warren said she also wants to provide free breakfast and lunch at schools and look for ways to provide dinner, as well as meals during school breaks, to students who need them.
New funding of $50 billion would also go toward fixing the broken infrastructure of the nation’s public schools — leaky roofs, black mold, lead pipes. Over half need such repairs to be in “good” condition, Warren wrote.
Warren would also increase Congressional funding for programs for disabled students and award “excellence grants” to any public school in America for investments in resources that meet their needs, or to help develop community schools.
She said states should be incentivized with public funds to support school integration, and that her housing plan and address of income inequality will help as well. Warren promised to also fight for the civil rights of students and parents, and to bolster their rights to bring claims against states and school districts.
She promised as well to protect English language learners, who now make up about 10% of the student population.
As for reducing the power standardized tests in education, Warren said she will push to prevent such results from being used to close schools or fire teachers, and to stem the school-to-prison pipeline by ending zero-tolerance discipline policies.
Warren also emphasized the need to enact some basic gun safety legislation to help keep students safe in school and insisted no teachers should be armed, an idea for which President Trump has expressed support. She would increase teacher pay and wipe out student debt for most of them, she added.
“Teachers have shown that they will stand together and fight for what they believe in,” Warren wrote. “They deserve a President who will fight for them too.”