Rachel M. Cohen

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

Recent Articles

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.

The 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 Employment Relations Board, each alleging the other is negotiating in bad faith...

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.

Less 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 standards for public-sector bookkeeping, issued a new rule requiring state and local governments to disclose corporate...

Can a Blue Wave in a Blue State Make Ben Jealous Maryland’s First African American Governor?

He’s running to unseat one of the last remaining moderate Republicans—and he’s running on the left.

This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Thirty-six governor’s mansions are up for grabs this November, and Ben Jealous, the 45-year-old former president of the NAACP turned venture capitalist, is on a mission to reclaim Maryland’s for the Democrats. In theory, this shouldn’t be such a heavy lift. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in the state, and Hillary Clinton swept it in 2016 by 26 points. The election carries some symbolic weight as well: If Jealous won, he would become the first African American governor of this former slave state where Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman once toiled. Like his fellow black gubernatorial nominees, Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida, Jealous could make some history this November. But the media and most political observers remain skeptical of Jealous’s prospects. His opponent, Republican Larry Hogan, who previously worked as a real-...

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.

Teachers 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 infuriating. That’s partly why the teacher movements have commanded such strong public support. A national poll released in late April found...

Q&A: Getting Millennials Off That Treadmill

An interview with Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days

Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock
H ow are millennials stereotyped as lazy, despite being a highly efficient and productive generation? Why are millennials characterized as spoiled and entitled, yet just 6 percent of us expect to one day receive Social Security benefits like those enjoyed by current retirees? In Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials , writer Malcolm Harris explores these and other questions—unpacking the precarity, the economic pressures, and the contradictions surrounding those born between 1980 and 2000. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. Rachel Cohen: Let’s talk a little about “human capital.” What does that mean? Malcolm Harris: Generally speaking, human capital is the skills, abilities, talents, accomplishments, and resumes that go with you when you work. It refers to the relationship between workers and owners. What some people get wrong is thinking that we own our human capital, and that we can sell it. That’s not true. We...