Rachel M. Cohen

Rachel M. Cohen is The American Prospect's senior writing fellow. 

Recent Articles

Fining Teachers for Switching Schools

A Prospect report finds a number of charter schools have non-compete clauses in their contracts, and sue teachers who move to other schools.

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
(AP Photo/Mel Evans) Kindergarten teacher Liz Niehaus talks with her students at KIPP Thrive Academy, in Newark N.J. L ast month, the Massachusetts Teachers Association reported on the story of Matthew Kowalski, a high school history and economics teacher who received a $6,087 bill over the summer from his former employer—a suburban charter school in Malden, Massachusetts. Kowalski had worked at the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School for seven years, but with three young children and another one on the way, he said he wanted to find a teaching job that would offer something more stable than at-will employment. Mystic Valley now seeks to collect thousands of dollars in “liquidated damages” for Kowalski’s departure. Every spring, the charter school requires its employees to sign one-year contracts for the following school year, but since many new teaching positions don’t open up until May, June, and July, this puts teachers in a tough position if they want to consider looking for...

Turning Out the Pro-Choice Vote

A walk with Planned Parenthood in the Philadelphia suburbs

(Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)
(Photo: AP/Susan Walsh) Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court on March 2, 2016. A week out from Election Day, perhaps no state is more closely watched than Pennsylvania. The neck-and-neck Senate race between incumbent Republican Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has already won the title of most expensive senate race in U.S. history, with more than $118 million spent by the end of September. Democrats need to net four seats to win control of the Senate, and more than $87 million in outside spending has already poured into Pennsylvania’s race. With 20 electoral votes, the state is also critical for the presidential contest. Though Pennsylvania hasn’t elected a Republican for president since the 1980s, the GOP controls the state legislature, and residents in more conservative parts of the state have particularly responded to Donald Trump’s promises to boost manufacturing and coal and natural gas production. With the state’s rural regions increasingly Republican,...

Why Subsidizing Teacher Housing with Tax Credits Is Bad Policy

With housing subsidies in limited supply, a California law providing affordable housing to public school teachers could facilitate the transfer of resources away from those most in need. 

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik) Financed by a new state tax credit, construction workers in Nebraska work on repairing housing. L ate last month California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Teacher Housing Act of 2016— a bill (as its preamble states) that will “facilitate the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing restricted to teachers and school district employees.” Critically, the legislation allows California to use its federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to finance teacher housing—making it the first state in the country to do so. The law has been sold as a win-win for everyone, and certainly on its face, it sounds appealing. There’s broad recognition that housing is increasingly expensive—especially in exorbitantly pricey cities like San Francisco. Americans strongly support their public school teachers— 77 percent say they continue to “trust and have confidence” in them. Moreover, California is grappling with teacher shortages , and...

Q&A: It’s Not the Cost of College -- It’s the Price

A conversation with Sara Goldrick-Rab on student debt, why financial aid often fails, and the skyrocketing price of college.

Matthew Sobocinski/Wikimedia Commons
Matthew Sobocinski/Wikimedia Commons This election season Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders aimed to galvanize millennial voters by raising the issue of college debt. In a new book , Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream , sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab lays out why college has grown far too expensive, and why our existing systems of aid so often fail to help students manage their financial obligations. In an interview with The American Prospect , Goldrick-Rab discusses her research, her proposals for reform, and why the price of college needs to be at the forefront of affordability conversations. R achel Cohen: A prominent theme in your book is that the nature of going to college has changed, but the policy discussions around college have not really changed. Sara Goldrick-Rab: There’s been a lot of discussion over the last five years about how the students in college are different. The Gates...

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