Democrat Klobuchar announces plan to help U.S. teachers and students

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar speaks at the Rainbow PUSH broadcast and community forum, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar rolled out a plan on Friday to provide additional resources for America’s public school teachers and students as she and her rivals seek the support of teachers’ unions.

Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota whose mother was a teacher, was due to announce a plan that provides federal funding for states that take certain actions, including increasing teacher pay.

Klobuchar was due to announce her plan at a forum in Houston, Texas, held by the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the U.S.

Klobuchar and nine other Democrats vying to become the nominee to take on Republican president Donald Trump in next year’s election were also due to speak, including front-runner Joe Biden, the former vice-president, and California U.S. senator Kamala Harris, who has been gaining in the polls since a strong debate performance last month.

Teachers and their unions are being eagerly courted by the large slate of Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination to run against Trump. Educators are a key voting bloc in state nominating contests and have flexed their political muscle in the past two years with a wave of strikes and protests over better pay and resources.

Under Klobuchar’s “Progress Partnership” plan, if elected president she would seek to provide federal funds for states that pledge to take, or have already taken, certain actions regarding their schools.

States that agree to increase teacher pay would receive matching federal funds for those increases. States would also need to update their high school curricula to improve workforce readiness, and demonstrate an equitable system to repair schools across their state, to receive additional federal help.

In her first 100 days if elected president, Klobuchar was due to tell the forum that she would also reduce racial disparities in disciplining students, prevent the expansion of private school vouchers - a Trump administration policy - and protect the rights of LGBTQ students.

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Susan Thomas