education policy alert
May 18, 2019

The future of charter schools could be in doubt if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) finds his way into the White House. Early reactions to the news are mixed.

Sanders, one of the frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary unveiled an ambitious, 10-point education policy plan on Saturday — which is the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that made school segregation illegal — during a speech in South Carolina.

Sanders' proposal would put a halt to public funding for charter schools, at least until the completion of a national audit on such schools, which have become a "polarizing" topic in America, HuffPost reports. Sanders would also attempt to implement a ban on for-profit charter schools, which make up 15 percent of all charter schools. Sanders' reasoning is that charter schools can often "drain" communities of already limited resources, hurting traditional public schools in the process and leading to unofficial school segregation. However, HuffPost writes, polls show that black Democrats tend to hold more favorable views of charter schools than white Democrats. Amy Wilkins, the senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called Sanders' plan "the opposite of the spirit" of the Brown v. Board decision.

Sanders is, to date, the only presidential candidate to have proposed a moratorium on charter school funding.

Other highlights of Sanders' plan are a minimum salary of $60,000 for teachers, tripling federal Title I funding, and providing universal school meals, Vox reports. Tim O'Donnell

May 13, 2019

Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary under former President Barack Obama, is still struggling to make headway in the Democratic presidential primary polls, but he is keeping pace with his more established competitors when it comes to releasing fully-formed campaign platforms.

Castro, who provided a detailed rundown of his immigration plan last month, rolled out his plan for education on Monday. The plan was built around five principles: universal pre-kindergarten, ensuring all high schoolers have a fair opportunity to graduate, affordable — and in many cases free — higher education, higher pay and more resources for teachers, and providing a fair education for all Americans regardless of race and socioeconomic class.

The plan is sweeping, but Castro really gets into the weeds when explaining his ideas for student loan forgiveness. In order to alleviate existing student debt, Castro's administration would cap monthly loan payments at $0 until the individual's income is at least 250 percent above the federal poverty line. This is not, Castro writes, a deferred payment. Once the borrower is earning the minimum salary, they will not pay more than 10 percent of their qualified income each month. After 240 monthly payments, including months where the payment is $0, the borrower will receive "non-taxable forgiveness of any remaining amount." Finally, all loans will have an interest accumulation cap that limit lifetime increase in the loan to 50 percent.

Castro's plan comes on the heels of another student loan forgiveness proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also a presidential candidate, and the issue is likely to be a frequently-discussed topic as the 2020 election approaches. Read Castro's full plan at his campaign website. Tim O'Donnell

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