Klobuchar Unveils Plan to Steer More Money to K-12 Education


(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar announced a plan to increase federal funding for K-12 education and provide a federal-state funding incentive for school improvement.

Speaking later on Friday at the National Education Association conference in Houston, the senator from Minnesota will propose the Progress Partnership, which would give states matching federal funds if they implement specific programs.

Klobuchar’s proposals build on previously announced policies. She’s positioned herself as a moderate Democrat in the 2020 race and has said she doesn’t support making college tuition free, as some of her competitors have proposed. She’s lagging in the polls, with scores in the very low single digits.

Klobuchar is one of 10 candidates -- including Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan and Elizabeth Warren -- scheduled to address the NEA, the largest U.S. labor union. The group has historically been a crucial constituency for Democrats, supplying money, volunteers and votes. It flexed its political muscle in 2018 when educators in several states staged strikes to protest stagnant pay and school funding.

The NEA, with about 3 million members, said it doesn’t plan to make an early endorsement in the crowded Democratic primary campaign. During the previous presidential election the union gave Hillary Clinton its backing over Sanders in October 2015, months before the first primary votes were cast.

Klobuchar’s plan would require participating states to agree to increase teacher pay, ensure high school curricula prepare students for postgraduate avenues, and create a school infrastructure improvement fund.

States would also need to offer recommendations on how to better accommodate working families through after-school programs or by incorporating community hubs into schools. She also called for creating a commission to review the current education funding formula in states to ensure funds are equally dispersed.

The senator has long been a proponent of STEM programs and previously announced plans to increase funding for public schools, STEM and disability programs, to increase teacher pay, and to block private school voucher expansion in her first 100 days, if elected.

Her previously released education program also focuses on civil rights in education. She said within her first 100 days she would reissue guidance directing schools to ensure students are treated fairly and to reduce the gap between how students of color are punished compared to white students. She also said she would restore protections for members of the LGBTQ community, including ensuring equality in education regardless of sexual orientation.

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