Rachel M. Cohen

Rachel M. Cohen is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., and a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

The Charter School Primary

Democrats running for president are distancing themselves from a charter school movement that once held powerful sway in the party.

agenda_2020.jpg When Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator running for president, released his wide-ranging education plan in mid-May, most of the media coverage focused on his proposals around charter schools. Commenters specifically focused on his calls to ban for-profit charters, which represent about 15 percent of the sector, and to halt federal funding for new charter schools until a national audit could assess the impact of charter growth in each state. Many education policy experts suspect that such an audit would eventually lead to banning all new charters, but the Sanders campaign says they are just taking their cues from the NAACP. In 2016, the civil rights group called for a moratorium on new charters until existing ones were brought under the same transparency and accountability standards as traditional public schools. Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, told The New York Times that his organization loves that Sanders’s plan adopts their language around...

As Consumer Protections Dwindle, Schools Push Financial Literacy

Teaching students how to manage their money has become mandatory in many K-12 classrooms. But can it substitute for real enforcement of financial fraud?

This is a preview of the Summer 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . In early January, with near-unanimous support, New Jersey legislators passed a law mandating financial literacy instruction for all middle school students across the state. The law says that lessons should provide students with the skills for “sound financial decision-making” and that topics addressed should include budgets, savings, credit, debt, insurance, investment, “and other issues associated with personal financial responsibility.” Courses could involve teaching 11-year-olds how to save for retirement, or 12-year-olds about mutual funds. The primary sponsor of the bill pledged to keep fighting until schools start teaching the topics as early as kindergarten, insisting the next generation couldn’t afford to wait. Across the country, a movement to teach financial literacy in public schools has gained tremendous traction. Nineteen states now require...

Strategies for a Post-Roe America -- and for Post-Roe American Women

An interview with Robin Marty

I ndependent journalist Robin Marty, one of the nation’s top reporters covering reproductive rights, has published a new book— Handbook for a Post- Roe America —with practical advice for women who might actually need to terminate a pregnancy in the future and for people who support abortion rights. While reproductive choice is at risk regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court , there’s little question in Marty’s mind that the landscape will soon look different in a world where Roeis overturned. The faster people accept that, she argues, the faster people can start preparing. This conversation has been edited and condensed. Rachel Cohen: So, to get started, do you think we are headed for a post- Roe America? Robin Marty: I am so certain at this point that I will even tell you it will be overturned in 2021. Abortion opponents already have all the cases they need, I’m fairly certain at this point it will be a case on banning D&E [dilation and...

The Charter School Movement Washes Out in California

A Los Angeles school board race reveals the waning power of charter school supporters.

Charter school politics in California have been changing very quickly. On Tuesday, Los Angeles held a special election for a school board seat that had been vacated in 2018. Ref Rodriguez had been elected in 2015 with the support of the charter school movement, and in 2017, two more pro-charter advocates won seats on the seven-person school board, giving charter supporters a slim majority for the first time. Their victory was short-lived, however, because Rodriguez was soon charged with money laundering , and eventually pled guilty to conspiracy and resigned. The contest to fill Rodriguez’s seat was, thus, high-stakes: Would someone like Rodriguez replace him on the board, and thereby keep the board’s pro-charter tilt? While the election is not over, the answer increasingly looks like it will be no. In a crowded field of ten candidates, 74-year-old Jackie Goldberg emerged with 48 percent of the vote , and heads into a May runoff with a strong likelihood of winning. The...

To Block One Decertification Vote, a Teachers Union May Undo Charter Teachers’ Right to Unionize Nationally

By bringing its case to Trump’s NLRB, New York’s teachers union could threaten charter teachers’ rights in a host of states.

The National Labor Relations Board announced last week it would be accepting briefs on a case challenging its jurisdiction over charter schools, a matter that’s been settled for several years. Should the Republican-appointed majority rule that charter school employees are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act—thereby reversing two earlier Board rulings—that would leave employees in many states with no way to bargain collectively with their employers. In 2016, in two decisions issued on the same day, the NLRB ruled that teachers at charter schools are private employees, concluding a charter’s relationship to the state resembled that of a government contractor. This position was affirmed last year by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, when it rejected a New Orleans charter school’s argument that its teachers, who organized a union, were public employees. As there is no statewide collective bargaining law in Louisiana, the teachers would have...

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