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Latinos are the vast majority in LAUSD’s Board District 5. But they likely won’t be the ones who elect their next school board member. Here’s why.

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Latinos make up almost 90 percent of enrollment in L.A. Unified’s Board District 5, which has some of the district’s neediest students and the state’s lowest-performing schools. But they most likely won’t be the ones electing their next representative to the school board.

Next week’s special election for the vacant school board seat is expected to draw “minuscule” voter turnout, and experts predict Latino participation will be even lower, particularly in the board district’s poorer southeast section where Latinos make up almost the entire enrollment and where the most struggling schools are located. 

But despite the urgency of improving educational outcomes for students living in the southeast communities, most likely it will be northeast voters — whiter, wealthier and older, and many without children in public school — who will turn out in greater numbers and determine the election’s outcome, say political scientists, pollsters and community activists.

The primary is next Tuesday, March 5. If none of the 10 candidates wins more than 50 percent, a runoff will be held May 14. Some experts don’t even think a Latino candidate will make it to a runoff. And that is raising the question among Latino leaders of whether an expensive special election is the best way to get someone who truly represents the majority.

“It’s a waste of money. It’s an undemocratic election. We talk about voter suppression in the southeast. By holding a special election in the manner that they are doing this, it disenfranchises communities, especially the southeast community,” said Fernando Guerra, a professor and founding director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, which conducts the L.A. Votes exit poll.

The two halves of District 5 are far away from each other in distance and educational opportunities. On a map, the board district known as BD5 looks like a backward letter C. Northeast of downtown, about 32,000 students are enrolled in schools in whiter, more affluent neighborhoods like Eagle Rock, Los Feliz and Silver Lake — where voter turnout has traditionally been higher. Latino students, however, are still the majority in BD5’s northeast section, making up 74 percent of enrollment.

Latino experts and political watchers agree that those who will be most impacted by low electoral turnout will be the 67,000 students in the southeast section, which includes Huntington Park, Maywood, Cudahy and South Gate, with an overwhelmingly Latino and low-income population. 

There are seven schools in BD5 that were recently identified in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state, and all seven are in the district’s southeast section, according to the district. Of the 39 schools rated in the lowest categories on the California School Dashboard, 64 percent are in the southeast.

Roughly mirroring L.A. Unified as a whole, more than a quarter of BD5’s students are classified as English learners and 11 percent require special education services. More than 85 percent live in low-income households, and an estimated 2,000 students are homeless. Nearly 4 in 10 of the district’s elementary and middle schools are in the lowest categoriesin both math and reading on the state’s dashboard.

However, BD5 topped L.A. Unified as a whole last year with its graduation rate of 83 percent, compared with 76.6 percent for all traditional schools in L.A. Unified. In BD5, 64 percent of high school graduates were eligible for the state’s public universities, compared with 49.9 percent for L.A. Unified. (The data do not include independent charter schools.) One reason for the higher graduation rates could be that there are a number of community organizations and Latino advocacy groups that partner with high schools in BD5 to help students graduate and go on to college.

On Tuesday, three schools in BD5 were awarded by the state as California Distinguished Schools, out of 17 district and charter schools in L.A. Unified. Two are in the southeast: Linda Esperanza Marquez High LIBRA Academy, a district school, and Alliance Marc & Eva Stern Math and Science High School, an independent charter school. Renaissance Arts Academy, also an independent charter school, is in the northeast.

THE PROBLEM WITH LOW TURNOUT

Turnout is expected to be far lower because this is a special election and it’s the only major race on the ballot apart from a few municipal elections.

In 2015, “there were four board races at the same time, so there was a greater discussion about the election in L.A.,” Guerra said.

Luis Sánchez, co-executive director of Power California, a civic engagement coalition that mobilizes young voters of color, expects next week’s turnout to be “minuscule.” “I imagine no more than 10,000 to 20,000 people are going to vote, of an electorate of 250,000 people.”

The BD5 special election was approved by the school board in August, a month after Board President Ref Rodríguez resigned after pleading guilty to political money laundering charges. The seat has been vacant since then. The winning candidate will serve out Rodríguez’s term, which ends in December 2020.

When Rodríguez, a Latino, won the seat in 2015, only about 7 percent of voters cast ballots in the school board primary, Paul Goodwin, a local pollster, wrote in an email to LA School Report. The turnout — a little over 26,000 people — was comparable in the runoff election, he said.

Guerra said Latinos represented 55 percent of those who voted in BD5 in the 2015 primary and runoff elections. “But let’s keep in mind that they (Latinos) represent 85 percent of the population,” he said.

Guerra explained that if there are about 4.5 million people living in L.A. Unified’s territory, then there are roughly 650,000 residents living in Board District 5, but someone can win the BD5 seat with only 5,000 votes. “That means that less than 1 percent of the people that live in the district can decide who the new school board member will be if you do the math,” he said. “Latinos are the vast majority of the population (in BD5), and close to the majority of the voters, but of the actual voters, they will be the minority.”

Jaime Regalado, a political science professor at California State University Los Angeles, said he can see how the communities of the southeast may feel left out in the election process.

“You’re going to have a lot of students and their parents feeling left out, that their voice wasn’t heard as loudly as it should’ve been,” Regalado said. “The fact that the whole district tends to be lower income, but especially the southern and eastern part of the district … there may be arguments about class favoritism in the process.”

GETTING OUT THE VOTE

Former District 5 board member Yolie Flores said in a phone interview that the Latino candidates from the southeast on the ballot should focus on getting the vote out.

“I encourage the candidates of the southeast to focus on voter turnout, because if any of them lose, it is because people didn’t go out to vote,” she said.

Flores was elected in 2007 and was vice president of the board for three years of her four-year term. Flores and Rodríguez have been the only two Latinos elected to represent BD5 in the last two dozen years.

There are seven Latino candidates among the 10 names on the ballot. Two of them are elected officials in the southeast: Nestor Enrique Valencia is a council member in the City of Bell, and Graciela Ortíz is a councilwoman in Huntington Park. Ortíz is the only Latino among the top four candidates with the most campaign contributions so far. As of Wednesday, she had raised $130,088, putting her fourth in terms of fundraising.

Flores has said the cultural and linguistic needs in most of BD5, and particularly in the southeast, are critical to take into consideration in this election.

“I’m a strong believer that representation matters. My own experience, during my time at the board, I had to fight some fights on policies and strategies that some board members didn’t support because they didn’t understand the population that I served,” she said.

Flores said there was a “different standard” when serving middle-class white families versus low-income Latino families. “My experience was if middle-class Anglo families were asking for dual-language (programs), they were provided that right away. But when it was Latino families, their response was, ‘You want your children to learn English,’” she said. “If you don’t understand the community and the living experience of the parents and the children from the community that you serve, then that community continues to be left behind. So I think representation matters for those reasons.”

She said she hopes there’s a runoff because “that would give somebody from the southeast a greater opportunity to get elected. I’m hoping we do have a runoff, and I obviously hope that one of the candidates is either somebody from the southeast or somebody that represents the diverse community that we have in BD5.”

WILL A LATINO ADVANCE TO A RUNOFF?

Sánchez said he believes a runoff would be between two non-Latino candidates: Heather Repenning, a former director of external affairs for the City of L.A., and former BD5 board member Jackie Goldberg. Both live in the northeast area, and Repenning’s daughter attends an L.A. Unified school there. Goldberg has been a long-time resident of Silver Lake. She served on the board nearly 30 years ago and doesn’t speak Spanish. Repenning spoke Spanish at a candidate forum earlier this month.

Repenning taught English as a Second Language at Los Angeles City College and taught in a bilingual school in Honduras. She lists among her endorsements the Latino Coalition of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose grandfather was born in Mexico.

Goldberg has been endorsed by two prominent Latino leaders, activist Dolores Huerta and Hilda Solís, a Los Angeles County supervisor and former U.S. Labor Secretary who credited Goldberg with “fighting for the first living wage and ensuring support for bilingual and dual language programs.” At a candidate forum this month, Goldberg highlighted how as a school board member she helped create a districtwide Spanish Bilingual Immersion Program.

Both Repenning and Goldberg have prominent labor backing. Repenning has been endorsed by SEIU Local 99, which represents education workers such as cafeteria workers, bus drivers and teachers assistants, and Goldberg by United Teachers Los Angeles.

• Read more: More money, more charter school scrutiny: Here’s what Jackie Goldberg wants to bring to LAUSD in her bid to rejoin the school board after nearly 30 years

Goodwin said a runoff between Repenning and Goldberg would likely discourage Latino turnout.

“It depends on who the candidates are. If you have a Latino candidate who makes the runoff, there might be a push for Latinos to turn out,” Goodwin said. “If you have this interesting sort of inter-union battle between Heather and Jackie, where there’s unlikely to be any substantive difference between them … then you might have very, very low Latino turnout — maybe made up for by slightly higher turnout in the northern part of the district.” So in the end, total turnout in this year’s race could be similar to 2015’s turnout, but the composition of the vote could be different, he said.

If no Latino candidates make the runoff, Sánchez said he is concerned that Latinos “won’t have a say in who their new representative will be” in this special election. “Because essentially it would be two candidates that really represent the northeast of the district and that also are not Latino in a majority Latino district, we have to ensure that the issues of southeast and Latino students are front and center in this election.” He added, “That’s the sad part.”

María Daisy Ortíz, an immigrant parent who was a panelist at a recent candidate forum, said she is not as concerned that BD5’s board member be Latino as she is that the person can improve educational opportunities for English learners and low-income students.

“I hope all parents, particularly Latinos, can be very analytical about who they’re going to vote for and don’t vote for a candidate that only tells them what they want to hear. There’s much more at stake in this election,” said Ortíz, who is also a member of the district’s committee for English learners and a frequent speaker at L.A. Unified board meetings.

Sánchez noted that there’s an even bigger issue. He said that the majority of the people who traditionally vote in school board elections don’t even have children in public schools.

“Only 10 percent of people who vote have had their kids or currently have kids enrolled in the school district,” Sánchez said, based on his experience with school board races in Los Angeles, including working for Mónica García’s 2006 school board campaign. He was also a BD5 school board candidate in 2011, narrowly losing to Bennett Kayser. Kayser was defeated by Rodríguez in 2015.

“People who make decisions for a school board are people whose kids don’t attend those schools,” Sánchez said. “That’s why we need to change who gets to vote in these elections.”

INCREASING REPRESENTATION

To make the board selection more democratic, Sánchez is advocating for youths 16 years old and up to be able to vote in school board elections, as well as non-citizens. In a school board election in November, San Francisco became the first California city to allow local non-citizen voting.

For that to happen in L.A., Sánchez said the City Council would have to vote to put a measure on the ballot and voters would have to approve it. “We’re looking at other cities like Berkeley, they’re allowing 16-year-olds to vote. And in San Francisco, they’re allowing immigrant families to vote in city elections. There’s a precedent with this in our state.”

• Read more:

San Francisco’s undocumented and legal non-citizens have their first chance to vote Tuesday — Here’s why most won’t

Unleashing the youth vote: Power California’s Luis Sánchez is bringing 25 years’ experience mobilizing young people to the polls this November — along with thousands of new voters

When candidate Repenning was asked in an interview with Speak Up, a parent advocacy group, if undocumented parents should be allowed to vote in school board elections, she said, “Yes, I’m in favor of that. The electorate choosing our leaders should reflect the communities that our schools are ultimately serving.”

At the parent-led forum in Eagle Rock this month, candidates Salvador “Chamba” Sánchez said all parents should be allowed to vote in school board elections regardless of their immigration status.

Guerra said that would be “symbolically” important, but it would not solve the problem of low turnout.

“I’m very supportive of that idea, but don’t use it as a panacea because I think in San Francisco they just got only like 100 non-citizens to vote. It’s not like that will make a major difference. And you have to remember, it’s not all undocumented, it’s only those that are non-citizens but are here legally.”

Guerra added, “If we think that education is the most important issue, we ought to be having these elections during the presidential election so there’s a greater turnout.”

Guerra also said he was “strongly” in favor of an appointment by the board instead of a costly special election. This election is expected to cost $4.3 million, based on estimates from city and county election officials.

At a board meeting last August, board member Scott Schmerelson proposed appointingGoldberg to the seat, which drew significant pushback from Latino parents. The board voted instead to keep the seat open until an election could be held.

• Read more: ‘I want my voice heard’ — Showdown in the boardroom as Latino parents balk at an attempt to name a replacement for Ref Rodriguez without their input

Flores said she would not have supported the appointment.

“No, I think … it always depends on who gets to appoint, and I saw what was happening and I saw the pressure to get someone appointed that I personally wouldn’t want on BD5,” she said, referring to Goldberg. “Again, I think representation matters, and I don’t know if we would have had somebody appointed that represents the cultural and linguistic needs of BD5.”

‘THEIR VOICE IS POTENTIALLY AS POWERFUL AS THEIR VOTE’

Getting Latinos to vote or become civically engaged has been a historical challenge, not only locally but nationwide. Even politically aware parents like Ortíz may sit out Tuesday’s election and wait for a runoff.

Ortíz said she was glad that she participated in the candidate forum, but she said she doesn’t feel encouraged enough to vote next week for any of the candidates. “I might wait until the runoff. None of them has yet fulfilled my expectations, and I don’t want to vote led by emotion. I need to make a very well-informed decision. I’m still not there yet,” she said in a phone interview Friday.

Flores believes southeast Latinos can make a difference in Tuesday’s election whether they are able to vote or not. She encouraged all parents, including immigrant parents, to make their voices heard.

“They should vote if they can. But if they can’t vote because of their immigration status, then they can go get five people in their community that can vote,” Flores said. “Their voice is potentially as powerful as their vote when they don’t have a vote especially, so there’s more than one way to make sure that representation is taken into account when we vote, and that’s by being active in other ways and advocating and organizing around the kind of candidate that will be responsive to the children that we need to lift up.”

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Leader Of Anti-Immigrant Militia Group Attacked In Jail, Lawyer Says

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SUNLAND PARK, N.M., April 24 (Reuters) ― The leader of an armed group that spent the past two months detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing condemnation from civil liberties advocates, has been hospitalized after he was attacked in jail, his attorney said.

Larry Hopkins, 69, was in a hospital with broken ribs after being attacked on Tuesday at the Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces in southern New Mexico, attorney Kelly O’Connell said.

A spokeswoman for the Dona Ana County center did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The attack occurred the same day Hopkins’ United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) group abandoned its border camp near Sunland Park, New Mexico, where they had spent two months detaining thousands of illegal migrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week accused Hopkins’ group of being a fascist, white nationalist militia illegally detaining and kidnapping Central American families seeking asylum.

O’Connell said he had spoken with Hopkins by phone.

“This guy is very high-profile. So, if he gets put into jail and is immediately attacked after his first hearing just a few days after being put in there, can Dona Ana County correctional protect high-profile defendants?” O’Connell asked.

O’Connell said he did not know why Hopkins had been targeted. But a spokesman for his UCP paramilitary group said he believed it was because of his activity at the border.

“They put him in a pod cell with a group of people and they had just got done watching the article about the ACLU writing about him being racist, and as a result of that he was attacked,” UCP spokesman Jim Benvie said in a video posted online.

New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said the UCP’s activities had to stop, and the FBI arrested Hopkins the next day on gun charges based on a 2017 search of his home.

Benvie said the UCP was moving to another campsite in a couple of days and would continue to support the U.S. Border Patrol as it faced an “invasion” of migrants, most of whom it said are fraudulently seeking asylum.

“We do have a private property location on the border that we have secured,” said Benvie. “We will not be going anywhere, we will be on an area where we can continue to do what we’ve done.”

The Border Patrol has said it does not support private citizens acting as law enforcement.

(Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

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The Good Ol’ Boys: 2 Years In, Trump Is Making Our Courts A Lot Less Diverse

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WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has done something remarkable to the nation’s federal courts: he’s filled up their empty seats with clones of Vice President Mike Pence.

Whether it’s for district courts or higher-ranking appeals courts, Trump’s confirmed lifetime judges are overwhelmingly white men with records of opposing abortion, LGBTQ rights and voting rights.

A whopping 90% of the Trump picks confirmed for appeals courts in his first two years in office were white, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis. 10% were Asian American. He didn’t confirm any African American or Hispanic circuit judges.

In that same period, 92% of his confirmed district court judges were white. 4% were Asian American, 2% were African American and 2% were Hispanic.

CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
As for the gender breakdown, 80% of Trump’s confirmed appeals court judges and 74% of those approved for the district courts were male.

CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
For some context, 65% of President Barack Obama’s confirmed appeals court judges were white, as were 63% of those he placed on district courts. In terms of gender, 56% of Obama’s confirmed appeals court judges and 59% of his confirmed district court judges were male, per the CRS analysis.

What does it all mean? It means that Trump is making the federal courts a lot less diverse than they were after Obama left office. And less diversity means fewer of the people making decisions on the nation’s most powerful courts reflect the demographics of the populations they serve, which limits perspectives on critical issues like abortion rights, criminal justice and employment discrimination.

“Trump has compiled a poor record of nominating and confirming accomplished, conservative but centrist, ethnic minority, female and LGBTQ candidates,” Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on judicial nominations, said in an email. “The appointment of diverse candidates would enhance the justice that courts deliver and parties merit.”

Some glaring holes in the makeup of Trump’s judges: he didn’t nominate any African American women to be appeals or district judges during his first two years ― though last month he nominated two. He hasn’t nominated any Native American judges. He’s nominated two LGBTQ people for federal court seats, but neither have been confirmed.

More than 80% of Trump’s judges are also members of the Federalist Society, a powerful Washington-based organization of conservative lawyers that has been feeding the White House the names of young, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-voting rights attorneys to confirm to judgeships.

Some of the group’s confirmed picks have included appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett, 47, who suggested Roe v. Wade was an “erroneous decision” and called the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit “an assault on religious liberty.”

Appeals court judge Eric Murphy, 40, defended Ohio’s notorious voter purge law that will make it disproportionately harder for minority, low-income and disabled voters to vote.

Appeals court judge John Bush, 54, has compared abortion to slavery and referred to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” He has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

Both of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, are Federalist Society members too (as well as white males).

The White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been laser-focused on filling appeals court vacancies because these courts often have the last word in federal cases. The Supreme Court only hears about 100 to 150 cases every year, compared to the more than 50,000 cases heard by appeals courts.

To date, Trump has won confirmation of 37 appeals court judges and 58 district court judges. At the appeals court level, that’s more than any president has confirmed in his first two years and means that one in five judges on the nation’s appeals courts was nominated by Trump.

McConnell is now turning his attention to the 125 vacancies on district courts. Republicans blew up the Senate rules last month to make it a lot easier to confirm district court judges, so it’s possible they’ll fill all of those vacancies by the end of Trump’s first term.

It’s too early to draw conclusions about how Trump has changed the federal courts. For one thing, despite the president getting so many appeals court judges confirmed, his picks are mostly replacing other judges appointed by Republican presidents, meaning the White House might not be able to tilt the partisan balance on those courts as much as it wants unless Trump wins a second term.

Russell Wheeler, a fellow in the Brookings Institution’s governance studies program, said the balance among appeals court judges appointed by Democratic or Republican presidents is beginning to shift toward the GOP in a few circuits. “Whether that pace will stay steady is hard to say,” he said.

But even where Trump has filled a court seat previously occupied by a Republican-appointed judge, there are significant differences. Trump’s judicial nominees are generally younger and have a clearer right-wing ideological bent than the people they’re replacing.

As Wheeler put it in February, “When Trump replaces a 72-year-old slightly right-of-center judge with a 45-year-old conservative firebrand, it’s not really apples for apples.”

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Elizabeth Warren Proposes Wiping Out Almost Everyone’s Student Debt

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On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a wide-ranging plan to fix the U.S. college system, with proposals including making two-year and four-year public college free and expanding the size and scope of the federal Pell Grant program.

And one particularly radical idea is sure to grab the attention of young people around the country: wiping out student loan debt for the vast majority of American borrowers.

“The time for half-measures is over,” Warren, one of many politicians and public figures hoping to secure the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in a post published Monday on Medium. “My broad cancellation plan is a real solution to our student debt crisis. It helps millions of families and removes a weight that’s holding back our economy.”

Last year, outstanding student debt in the U.S. topped $1.5 trillion, a growing financial burden that Warren argues is “crushing millions of families and acting as an anchor on our economy.” 

“It’s reducing home ownership rates,” she wrote. “It’s leading fewer people to start businesses. It’s forcing students to drop out of school before getting a degree. It’s a problem for all of us.”

To address the problem, Warren is suggesting what she calls a “truly transformational” approach: wiping out $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone with a household income below $100,000. People with student loans and a household income between $100,000 and $250,000 would receive substantial relief as well. At that point, “the $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000,” Warren wrote. 

That means someone with a household income of $130,000 would get $40,000 of their loans wiped out. Someone with a household income of $160,000 would get $30,000 in relief. 

People with household incomes above $250,000 would not be eligible for debt cancellation. 

Under Warren’s proposed plan, up to 76 percent of households with student loan debt would receive “total loan forgiveness,” according to an economic analysis of the proposal by academics at Arizona State University, Brandeis University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Ninety-five percent, or 42 million Americans, would be eligible to have at least some of their debt canceled.

The plan would particularly benefit black, Latino and lower-income households, as well as households headed by people who never finished college, the researchers said. Wiping out the debt would cost the government an estimated $640 billion, they noted. 

To make the process as painless as possible, student debt owned by the government would be canceled automatically after an analysis of borrowers’ income and outstanding debt, Warren said. Private student loan debt would be “eligible for cancellation” as well, but in those cases, “the federal government will work with borrowers and the holders of this debt to provide relief,” she said. 

Randi Weingarten, the president of the influential American Federation of Teachers union, said in a prepared statement that Warren’s college proposals would be a “game-changer” for borrowers, and would prove to be “as consequential as the GI Bill” enacted after World War II. 

“Sen. Warren’s plan would release Americans from their debt sentence so they can live their lives, care for their families and have a fair shot at the American dream,” Weingarten said.

Warren’s proposal also received praise from Seth Frotman, the former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who stepped down last year in protest of what he saw as the Trump administration’s prioritization of “powerful financial companies” over borrowers. 

“Student debt has become a crisis that can no longer be ignored,” Frotman said. “We need leaders who not only understand this crisis, but who put forth solutions to end it. Senator Warren’s proposal recognizes the scale of this crisis and rises to meet it.”

In her post, Warren lays out a litany of other college-related proposals as well. Like fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Warren wants to make two-year and four-year public colleges free by wiping out tuition and fees. She also wants to do more to help students pay for the growing cost of non-tuition expenses like room and board by investing an additional $100 billion in the Pell Grants program over the next decade, as well as expanding their size and who is eligible for them.

On top of that, Warren hopes to create a fund with a minimum of $50 billion to help historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions; prohibit “public colleges from considering citizenship status or criminal history in admissions decisions”; give additional funds to states that substantially improve enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color; and eventually cut for-profit colleges off from federal money. 

“I commend Senator Warren for proposing solutions to rectify our student debt crisis and to provide universal race conscious access to a quality college degree,” said Darrick Hamilton, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. “This bold debt cancellation proposal, coupled with investments to let Americans graduate college without debt, offers an American promise of enabling access to a college education regardless of one’s race or families’ ability to pay.”

The plan to broadly cancel student debt and institute a universal free college program is estimated to cost a total of $1.25 trillion over 10 years. Warren claims the cost would be covered by passing a separate plan to annually tax the wealth of households worth more than $50 million. 

The academics who analyzed the report argued that the overall cost would likely be offset by additional tax revenue that would come from the proposal itself, which they said would serve as a middle-class economic stimulus. 

“Debt cancellation cascades to relieving thousands of dollars in interest payments while leaving several hundred dollars each month for consumption and investment,” the researchers wrote in a letter to Warren. “It would likely entail consumer-driven economic stimulus, improved credit scores, greater home-buying rates and housing stability, higher college completion rates, and greater business formation.”

Thus far in 2019, Warren has distinguished herself from other Democratic presidential candidates by regularly putting out innovative policy proposals, like her plans for universal child care and an annual wealth tax on the ultra-wealthy. On Friday, Warren made news on the non-policy front when she became the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. 

But the Massachusetts senator has also faced questions about the large size of her staff after only raising $6 million during the first quarter of the year ― a number that can be at least partially attributed to her decision to forego traditional big-donor fundraising tactics. 

In her post on Monday, Warren argued that she began “sounding the alarm” on the student debt crisis long ago, noting that as a senator she has introduced bills to “provide relief to student borrowers” and “let people refinance their loans and lower their monthly payments.” She has also pressured the Department of Education to cancel thousands of “fraudulent” loans related to the now-dissolved for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

“We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that instead of treating higher education like our public school system ― free and accessible to all Americans ― they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families,” she wrote Monday. 

“The student debt crisis is the direct result of this failed experiment,” she added. “It’s time to end that experiment, to clean up the mess it’s caused, and to do better.” 

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