Rachel M. Cohen

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

Recent Articles

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. campaign-trail-icon-109.jpeg 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...

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...

Can Teachers Unions Bargain for Better -- or Fewer -- Charter Schools?

A growing number of local unions want a say in authorizing them.

AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong
AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong Public school teachers rally outside the Chicago Board of Education district headquarters during a strike on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 in Chicago. I n cities across the country, teachers unions have been strategizing ways to broaden the demands they bring to the negotiating table. Organizing under the banner of “ bargaining for the common good ,” educators and their community allies have started to challenge a legal regime that for too many years left unions solely focused on wages and benefits. One window of opportunity that teacher unions are exploring is charter authorizing—the process of opening, closing, and monitoring charter schools. Though laws vary from state to state, 90 percent of the nation’s roughly 1,000 charter authorizers are local school districts. (The other 10 percent include statewide boards, independent boards, and nonprofit organizations.) Someone looking to open a charter school would in most cases have to apply to a local school...

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