- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2019

Julián Castro, the former Obama administration official and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday released a sweeping education proposal that calls for universal pre-K and student loan forgiveness, among other priorities.

Mr. Castro is calling for eliminating tuition at public universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational programs.

His plan would also push monthly student loan payments for borrowers to zero until they earn more than 250 percent of the federal poverty line.

Then, they would pay a maximum of 10 percent of their qualified income each month. After 240 monthly payments, the borrower would receive “non-taxable forgiveness” of any remaining amount.

“Education is the foundation of the American Dream and one of the most critical investments our nation makes in its future,” Mr. Castro said. “However, we have failed to adequately invest in our students, teachers and schools — disproportionally affecting lower-income communities and students of color.”

The plan also calls for a $150 billion investment in “school facilities, technology infrastructure, and organizational support” across the pre-K through 12th-grade system, expanded access to college credit for high school students, and dedicated trade programs in high school.

It would also invest more money in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions and end public support for private for-profit colleges.

The plan would include a federal tax credit to boost teacher pay by up to $10,000 per year and reform student discipline practices.

It would also prohibit immigration enforcement agents from conducting arrests or searches at schools and school bus stops, ensure that people being held in immigration detention facilities have access to education opportunities and ensure that illegal immigrant “Dreamers” are eligible for federal higher education assistance.

His proposal would also repeal Trump administration policies that promote arming teachers as a solution to combat school shootings.

Mr. Castro hasn’t yet broken through in a big way in polling on the 2020 Democratic presidential field, but his campaign did announce earlier this month that he has met polling and individual contribution requirements to get him on stage at the first round of Democratic National Committee debates next month.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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