At a policy forum in Miami before the Council of the Great City Schools, surrogates for Trump and Clinton clarified their views, sort of.
Carl Paladino, remembered in New York for his racist and sexist emails during his campaign against Cuomo, promised that Trump would not put an educator in charge of the Education Department. That’s no surprise. In other settings, both Trump and Paladino have promised to turn all federal funding over to charters and vouchers and to abandon public education.
Clinton’s surrogate said that she is a “big backer” of charter schools, but not for-profit schools. That is not at all reassuring, since some of the most rapacious charter schools are technically non-profit but are managed by for-profit EMOs. And some rapacious charter chains are non-profit but pay their executives obscene salaries. And some non-profits are agents of privatization, even when the profit motive is absent.
The article also said:
During her 2016 campaign, Clinton’s position on charters became a bit less clear. During her time as a U.S. senator from New York, for example, Clinton was a supporter of charters. She’s even taken some grief from the teachers’ unions for that stance. But during this White House run, she also criticized charters for not necessarily accepting all the same students that traditional public schools do. And she’s said charters should supplement what public schools do and not replace them.
She was right. Charter schools do not accept the same students that real public schools do. They can admit those they want and kick out those they don’t want. And while it is admirable to say that charters should not replace public schools, the reality is that charters drain both resources and students from public schools, causing public schools to cut their programs and staff and to have even less capacity to serve the overwhelming majority of students.
The United States simply cannot afford to have a dual school system: one that chooses the students it wants, and the other required to accept all who apply. No high-performing nation in the world operates a dual school system.
If Clinton is to have an intelligent policy about public and charter schools, she must be better informed than she is now, and she can’t rely solely on charter advocates for her information about the way charters are systematically eroding public education in America. She need only look at what is happening in Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and a dozen or more other states.
She might learn that more than 90% of charters are non-union. She might bear in mind that her strongest supporters have been the NEA and the AFT, whose jobs will be lost as charters expand.
Profit is not the only issue, though it is one. The central issue is privatization and the danger to America’s historic commitment to universal public education, doors open to all, not to some.
The good news is that one of the Podesta emails leaked by Wikileaks said that a group of billionaire reformers organized by Laurene Powell Jobs wanted to meet with Hillary but she couldn’t make time for them, and Podesta responded:
Probably worth the time. Not sure we can reassure them. Want to discuss by phone?
Note bene: she didn’t make time to meet with them, and the staff was not sure it could reassure them. That’s a good sign. Take that, reformers!