The Mercury News - June 6, 2019
Last month, we celebrated the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that officially outlawed school segregation — a pillar of America’s sacred promise to provide a quality public education to all children, regardless of their race, gender or family income.
And yet 65 years after Brown, that promise is being broken, as our nation’s schools are being battered by budget cuts, privatization schemes and resegregation. My Thurgood Marshall Plan for Quality Public Education for All aims to reverse this by reinvesting in our schools and combating the drivers of segregation.
Over the past few decades, public schools have endured massive budget cuts that often ended up paying for huge tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals. While companies like Amazon pay zero taxes, we are seeing mass school closures and dilapidated classrooms, especially among those in poor communities of color.
To combat this, my education plan calls for rescinding Donald Trump’s tax breaks and using those resources to triple funding for low-income school districts. We will also institute a national per-pupil funding standard, so that the quality of a child’s education is not contingent on her zip code. Education should be a human right, not a privilege.
In addition, my plan also calls for restrictions on charter school initiatives that siphon resources out of the public education system and resegregating schools.
When parents enroll their children in charter schools, the public funding allocated to those students goes with them. In the Oakland Unified School District, for example, charter schools were costing the district more than $57 million per year. This amount would easily cover the budget shortfall of $56 million over two years that Oakland officials have projected.
Charters are publicly-funded, but they are privately managed — meaning, they are not accountable to taxpayers. As a result, billionaires like Eli Broad, the DeVos family, and the Walton family are able to bankroll destructive charter school experiments to enrich investors and real-estate developers with taxpayer resources.
Between 2002-2017, California charter schools received more than $2.5 billion in tax dollars or taxpayer subsidized funds to lease, build, or buy school buildings. In one example, the Alliance Ready Public Schools network of charter schools used public funds to build a $200 million private real estate empire in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, a report from the Network for Public Education found 38 percent of California charter schools that received federal funds between 2006 and 2014 “had either never opened or shut their doors by 2019.”
Advocates argue that charters deliver good outcomes — but the overall results are mixed at best. ...
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