Somehow I missed this article when it was published in January 2017. It is well worth reading because it explains how the mainstream of the Democratic Party paved the way for the radical rightwing DeVos agenda.

Unless the Democrats regain their pro-public education values, they will cede a significant part of their base. They cheered striking teachers in the spring of 2018, but they long ago abandoned them and their schools.

It is time for Democrats to once again be the party that fights for the common good, the party that supports public schools, not school choice, which is a mighty hoax. Charter schools are partial privatization that lack oversight or accountability, this opening possibilities of waste, fraud and abuse. On average, they don’t get better test scores than public schools. Those that do choose their students and skew the demographics. Voucher schools get worse results and are free of any civil rights laws.

Hartman could have named many more Democrats who abandoned public schools, starting with DFER. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. Andrew Cuomo of New York. Please feel free to add to the list..

Hartman wrote last year:

“American public schools have some very serious problems. Spend time in the crumbling public schools on the south side of Chicago and then venture over to the plush public schools in the leafy Chicago suburbs, and you’ll experience alternative universes. Schools all over the greater Chicagoland are filled with committed and professional teachers, some quite excellent. But the students who attend the city schools arrive at school with stark disadvantages, unlike their better-off suburban peers. Discrepancies in school funding only exacerbate such class deficits.

“Most of the problems with the public schools, in other words, are outgrowths of a deeply unequal society. Yet the solution to this problem — the redistribution of wealth — is inimical to the interests of billionaires like DeVos. The fact that she will soon be in charge of the nation’s schools is a sick joke. Make no mistake: DeVos is a serious threat to public education and should be treated accordingly.

“Unfortunately, many Democrats have long supported the same so-called education reform measures that DeVos backs. Often wrapping these measures in civil rights language, Democratic education reformers have provided cover for some of the worst types of reforms, including promoting the spread of charter schools — the preferred liberal mechanism for fulfilling the “choice” agenda. (Charter schools operate with public money, but without much public oversight, and are therefore often vehicles for pet pedagogical projects of billionaire educational philanthropists like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.)

“DeVos will not have to completely reverse the Department of Education’s course in order to fulfill her agenda. Obama’s “Race to the Top” policy — the brainchild of former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, past CEO of Chicago Public Schools — allocates scarce federal resources to those states most aggressively implementing education reform measures, particularly around charter schools.

“Perhaps the most effective advocate of school choice is New Jersey senator Cory Booker, who many Democrats are touting as the party’s savior in the post-Obama era. Liberals swooned when Booker opposed his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions, the right-wing racist Trump tapped to be the next attorney general. But however laudable, Booker’s actions didn’t take much in the way of courage.

“Booker’s funders — hedge-fund managers and pharmaceutical barons — don’t care about such theatrics. They’re more concerned that he vote Big Pharma’s way and keep up his role as a leading member of Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-privatization group. They want to make sure he continues attacking teachers’ unions, the strongest bulwark against privatization.

“Their aim is to undercut public schools and foster union-free charter schools, freeing the rich from having to pay teachers as unionized public servants with pensions.

“So in the fight against Trump and DeVos, we can’t give Booker and his anti-union ilk a pass. As enablers of DeVos’s privatization agenda, they too must be delegitimized.

“Public education depends on it. The beautiful school where I send my children depends on it.“