By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren said on Monday that if elected she would roughly quadruple federal funding for public schools and incentivize states to adopt funding approaches that more equitably fund lower-income schools.
Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who is now a front-runner for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination along with former Vice President Joe Biden, wrote in a post on the website Medium that her plan would result in the federal government investing an additional $450 billion in elementary and secondary schools over the next decade.
"Our current approach to school funding at the federal, state, and local level underfunds our schools and results in many students from low-income backgrounds receiving less funding," Warren wrote. "My plan makes a historic new federal investment in public schools - and pushes both the federal government and state governments to dedicate more resources to the schools and students that need them most."
In the United States, state and local governments fund about 90% of public primary and secondary education, with the federal government providing the remaining 10% primarily through the "Title I" program.
Warren said she would quadruple Title I funding over the next 10 years. She would also predicate access to additional Title I funds on states adopting school funding schemes that are not reliant on property taxes, which benefit schools in higher-income areas. She would also invest an additional $50 billion in improving infrastructure at the schools most in need of upgrades.
The increase in Title I funding, which would be financed by Warren's proposal for a 2% wealth tax on household assets beyond $50 million, would also cover an increase in teacher pay that she frequently mentions on the campaign trail.
Warren wrote that she would "push to cancel all existing student meal debt" and allot more money to the free school meals program. She would also push to prohibit the use of standardized testing as a significant factor in firing teachers, closing schools and other major decisions.
Warren would also impose transparency requirements on privately operated public charter schools and end federal funding for the creation of new charter schools, saying the Federal Charter School Program is an "abject failure," with many schools under investigation by regulators. She would ban for-profit charter schools outright and direct the Internal Revenue Service to investigate nonprofit charters that are run by for-profit entities or operate with the assistance of for-profit service providers.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)