Rachel M. Cohen

Rachel M. Cohen is a writing fellow at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

Clinton Reframes Education Message, Attacks Trump

Hillary Clinton’s speech this week to 3,000 teachers union members underscored recent shifts in her party’s education agenda, and took jabs at Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Federation of Teachers convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Monday, July 18, 2016. H illary Clinton took advantage of a speech to the American Federation of Teachers this week to test out her party’s retooled K-12 education platform, and to hammer home important themes of her presidential campaign. Clinton’s speech to more than 3,000 AFT delegates gathered for the group’s national convention in Minneapolis on Monday took place against the backdrop of a GOP convention centered heavily on anti-Clinton attacks. It was one of several campaign stops that Clinton is making this week, including an Ohio speech earlier on Monday to the NAACP, and an address to government workers scheduled for Wednesday. Clinton’s Minnesota speech differed noticeably from a National Education Association address she gave in Washington, D.C., less than two weeks ago, in which she had stated early on that we should pay...

Q&A: The Abortion Battle’s Next Phase

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference on July 9, 2014. In a landmark ruling last month, the Supreme Court struck down a package of Texas abortion restrictions known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws. Such laws, which have proliferated around the country, typically restrict abortion access by imposing rigid and expensive hospital-style mandates on clinics. The Court’s ruling in the case, known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt , found that the restrictive Texas TRAP laws were unconstitutional because they placed an “undue burden” on women, and marked a major victory for the reproductive rights movement. The American Prospect’s Rachel Cohen spoke with Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America , which helped lead the challenge to the Texas TRAP laws, to ask about the ruling’s implications for abortion access and for the upcoming election. This is an edited...

Hillary on Charters: Yes and No

The Democratic presidential candidate spoke to the nation’s largest labor union, and defended both collective bargaining and public charter schools.

(Photo: AP/Molly Riley)
(Photo: AP/Molly Riley) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses the NEA Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, July 5. O n Tuesday morning, as the FBI issued a recommendation to not indict Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal email server while secretary of state, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee came before more than 7,500 delegates at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C., and praised public charter schools—to the audible dismay of some of the delegates—while condemning for-profit ones. The moment of tension emerged when Clinton started to discuss replicating the success of “great schools”—including public charter schools. She noted there had been too much focus on so-called “failing” schools. Though Clinton has been a long-time supporter of school choice, and her husband helped to catapult charters to the national stage when he was president, she took heat from charter school...

Education Reformers Reflect at 25

A quarter-century on, challenges loom for the school reform movement.

Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Syda Productions/Shutterstock I t’s been a quarter-century since the nation’s first charter school opened in Minnesota, prompting many self-proclaimed reformers to step back and reflect on their movement’s progress. Charters educated 2.5 million students this past year, in 6,700 schools across 43 states. Programs enabling students to attend private schools with vouchers are expanding . And in February, Teach for America celebrated its 25-year anniversary with a summit in Washington, D.C.—noting that of their 50,000 teachers and alumni, 40,000 are still under 40. But challenges loom for the movement—politically and philosophically. Some tensions can be chalked up to growing pains: a nationwide bipartisan coalition is bound to disagree at times, and certainly policy implementation can be far more contentious than passing legislation. Transforming the public education system, reformers have found, turns out to be hard, messy work. But the problems run deeper than that. Internally, two...

Teacher Unions Are ‘Bargaining for the Common Good’

Unions across the country are expanding their focus to the broader community.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Teachers at West Seattle Elementary School begin walking a picket line Wednesday morning, September 9, 2015, in Seattle after last-minute negotiations over wages and other issues failed to avert a strike in Washington state's largest school district. T his week, the Los Angeles school board voted to approve a new bargaining agreement with UTLA, the city’s teachers union. Local community organizations—like Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, InnerCity Struggle, and the Advancement Project—hailed the “groundbreaking” agreement for directing more resources towards students in high-needs schools. Some specific items UTLA bargained for included hiring a Pupil Services and Attendance counselor for high-poverty high schools, and hiring a new teacher for the 55 most needy elementary schools in order to reduce class size. Union members voted overwhelmingly in support of this new contract a week earlier. “We...

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