Almost 90% of American students attend public schools, subject to democratic control. 6% of American students are enrolled in privately managed charter schools. Under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, it is obvious that the promotion of both charters and vouchers is central to the education policy of the Trump administration.

Two Democratic senators who are candidates for president, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have released education plans that recommend an end to federal support for charter schools (currently $440 million), which DeVos has handed out to corporate charter chains like IDEA and KIPP.

Senator Cory Booker, having equivocated during the campaign about his previous zealous support for charters, vouchers, and Betsy DeVos, surprisingly reversed course and wrote an article in the New York Times, once again stating his support for charters.

Since Senator Booker is polling at less than 2% in the primaries, he may be looking past the election to restore his relationship with his funders, who love charter schools and were disappointed by his apparent defection from their cause.

Leonie Haimson writes here about Senator Booker’s curious use of the word “boogeyman” to belittle critics of charter schools.

She notes that reporters at the New York Times have also used that term to belittle charter critics. Then she googled and found that the same word has been used by charter defenders thousands of times.

Haimson points out that charters in NYC divert more than $2 billion each year from the public school system. That money might have been spent to meet crucial capital needs and to reduce class sizes.

Also, Senator Booker did not mention that the national NAACP passed a resolution in 2016 calling for a moratorium on charters.

There are many reasons to be critical of charters, including their diversion of funding from public schools, their private governance, their long and well-documented record of waste, fraud, and abuse.

To dismiss all criticism of charters as a fear of a boogeyman is cynical, to say the least, and serves only the interests of the charter industry.