Rachel M. Cohen

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

Rethinking School Discipline

Schools are cutting back on expulsions and suspensions, which are doled out disproportionately to minority students. Without adequate funding, though, the new reforms may cause problems of their own.

AP Photo/Eric Gay
This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . On a Friday morning in early September, all the middle school students at Hampstead Hill Academy, a pre-K–8 school in Baltimore, filed into the gym. The Ravens were playing on Sunday, which meant that students could take a day off from wearing their navy-blue collared uniforms if they wanted to dress in purple in support of the city’s football team. The roughly 240 students sat on the gym floor, forming a big circle. Each week, all sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders come together for this half-hour event—to formally recognize the good deeds of their peers and teachers, to offer apologies to those they had wronged, and to share upcoming personal announcements. Matthew Cobb, an eighth-grade science teacher, helped facilitate the morning’s community circle. Encouraging students to make eye contact with one another and to project their voices, it was an exercise in...

Turning Out the Pro-Choice Vote

A walk with Planned Parenthood in the Philadelphia suburbs

(Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)
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 regions increasingly Republican, and big cities like Philadelphia...

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)
Late 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 champions of the new law believe that providing housing assistance...

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
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. Rachel 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 Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, and...

Pages