First Democratic 2020 candidate vows a complete ban on charter schools

(File Photo: screenshot)

Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to take a public stand on charter schools, becoming the first 2020 candidate to call for a ban on the for-profit education choice.

The Vermont independent will deliver an education policy speech in South Carolina on Saturday in which he will argue that charter schools, which receive government funding yet do not operate as part of the state school system, funnel money away from public schools and has harmed the black community, according to CNN.

(File photo: screenshot)

“Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system,” Sanders tweeted Friday, linking to a CNN report detailing his policy proposal. “When we are in the White House we will ban for-profit charter schools.”

“As president, I will stand with groups like the @NAACP and put a moratorium on federal funding of new charter schools until rules are in place to make sure they are operating with transparency and accountability,” he said in another tweet.

Sanders is set to make his remarks in Orangeburg, timing his speech with the anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ruling segregation in public schools unconstitutional. He will be calling for a freeze on funding for expansions of charter schools pending a national audit on the schools and promises to end all public funding of future charter schools if he is elected president.

According to CNN:

A senior Sanders campaign official shared the details of policy proposal with CNN ahead of the Sanders speech in South Carolina — the crucial early primary state where the African-American vote is a key voting base. The moratorium on the funding of public charter schools was initially called for by the NAACP; Sanders will say in his speech that he supports the group’s efforts.
Sanders will also make the case that the growth of charter schools has done disproportionate harm to the black community because it has pulled public dollars away from community public schools.

 

His proposal, which is entirely at odds with the Trump administration’s support of public funding of charter schools, will also require them to come under the same regulations and oversight as the regular state public schools. Sanders will also be calling for charter school teachers to be unionized and for CEO salaries to be capped.

Sanders is expected to argue that, while charter schools began with admirable intentions, “the system has been corrupted by wealthy activists who spent millions to privatize these schools, leaving them unaccountable and draining funds from the public school system,” CNN reported.

The 2020 hopeful is standing out from the pack of nearly two dozen Democratic candidates with his bold proposal, becoming the first 2020 presidential candidate to call for a ban on charter schools. Sen. Elizabeth Warren certainly did not offer such a strong stance at a Monday town hall, according to CNN.

“I think that we need to support our public schools, and that no child should be left behind in a school that is not functional,” Warren said. “Our whole job in America should be to make sure that every child gets a good education in a public school.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos slammed school choice opponents of back in 2017, calling them “flat Earthers” who have “chilled creativity.”

“They will be hurting the children and families who can least afford it. If politicians in a state block education choice, it means those politicians do not support equal opportunity for all kids,” DeVos said at a pro-school choice conference at the time.

Naturally, Sanders’ plan was well-received by school and teachers union officials.

“For the last several decades, the unregulated growth of private charter schools has siphoned off money from public schools, with little protection against fraud, and little attention paid to equity or quality when it comes to educating kids,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, according to CNN.

“The senator’s plan takes tangible steps toward making the charter school industry accountable to parents and the public, she added, calling the proposal “vitally important.”

But those associated with the charter schools disagree as Amy Wilkins, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, noted.

“Sanders’ call is out of touch — as usual — with what African-Americans want,” Wilkins said in a statement to CNN, noting that the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on funding was rejected by three California branches even as evidence has shown that charter schools have helped thousands of at-risk children.

“More disturbing, the senator — for personal political gain — would literally lock African-American students into schools that have failed them for generations,” she added.

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