Rachel M. Cohen

Rachel M. Cohen is a journalist based in Washington, D.C., and a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

To Block One Decertification Vote, a Teachers Union May Undo Charter Teachers’ Right to Unionize Nationally

By bringing its case to Trump’s NLRB, New York’s teachers union could threaten charter teachers’ rights in a host of states.

panitanphoto/Shutterstock T he National Labor Relations Board announced last week it would be accepting briefs on a case challenging its jurisdiction over charter schools, a matter that’s been settled for several years. Should the Republican-appointed majority rule that charter school employees are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act—thereby reversing two earlier Board rulings—that would leave employees in many states with no way to bargain collectively with their employers. In 2016, in two decisions issued on the same day, the NLRB ruled that teachers at charter schools are private employees, concluding a charter’s relationship to the state resembled that of a government contractor. This position was affirmed last year by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, when it rejected a New Orleans charter school’s argument that its teachers, who organized a union, were public employees. As there is no statewide collective bargaining law in Louisiana, the teachers would have been...

Los Angeles Teachers Poised to Strike

The union in the nation’s second largest school district is calling for an end to the privatization of public schools.

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes Thousands of teachers marched through downtown Los Angeles on December 15, 2018. T he first major teachers’ strike of 2019 could start this Thursday if the nation’s second largest school district and the 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles fail to reach a contract agreement. It would be the first teacher strike for the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1989, and the first large-scale teacher strike in a blue city since the national #RedforEd movement took off last February. Educators in Oakland, six hours north, are also currently engaged in fraught contract negotiations, and have signaled they too could strike later this month. To understand the state of LA school politics right now, think of a pot that is nearer and nearer to boiling over. On top of its threat to strike, the union recently called for an “immediate halt” on all new charter schools; both the district and the teachers union have filed complaints with the state’s Public...

How Schools Can Follow the Money That Should Be Theirs

New databases reveal the tax revenues siphoned off by corporate abatements that would otherwise be funding public schools.

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File The logo for ExxonMobil appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. L ess than two months ago, hundreds of Baton Rouge educators voted to stage a walkout in protest of requests by ExxonMobil for millions of dollars in local property tax abatements. Working in conjunction with a faith-based group, Together Baton Rouge, the teachers called on the state to direct the proposed corporate subsidies back into public education. ExxonMobil has defended its tax breaks as necessary to create a stable and hospitable business climate. Unlike teachers in Baton Rouge, who learned of the oil giant’s exemption from their state’s longstanding Industrial Tax-Exemption Program , most jurisdictions have lacked any real picture of how much money public schools are losing, or could lose, due to corporate tax abatements. That all began to change in 2015 when the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, a private organization that sets professional...

Teachers Are Finally Winning Raises, But Many of Their Co-Workers Aren’t

The public’s support for teachers isn’t there for pre-school teachers or school bus drivers, who often don’t make a living wage.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin Thousands march to the Arizona State Capitol for higher teacher pay and school funding on the first day of a state-wide teacher strike in Phoenix. T eachers are on the march across America. This year has seen a stunning eruption of invigorated teacher movements in states that rarely make this kind of political news—places like West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Though these mobilized teachers have been careful to frame their demands for higher pay in the context of increased spending for students and schools, there is no doubt that raising their own salaries has been a key priority. Local and national media have worked hard to lift the voices of teachers taking to the streets. We’ve read about educators with virtually no savings or chance of affording a vacation . We’ve met teachers forced to moonlight as cashiers and Uber drivers . We’ve learned about educators’ stagnant or falling wages, and their spiking health-care premiums. The stories have been...