As Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020 call for funding to be diverted from charter schools, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools president Nina Rees accused the party of bowing to teachers’ unions in exchange for sizable campaign contributions.
“The simple answer is that the teachers’ unions are now more powerful than ever before when it comes to Democrat party politics,” she said on the latest edition of “The Journal Editorial Report,” which aired Saturday. “The unions have discovered that because our teachers are not unionized, that they have a fewer share of the market than they had before.
“So, increasingly, they’re flexing their muscles,” Rees continued, noting how they spent tens of millions of dollars during the 2016 election cycle. “So, to the extent these Democrats are vying for the support of the teachers’ unions, they’ve discovered that opposing charter schools is one way to get that support.”
Rees said most students in charter schools have been from low-income households and refuted the claim that charter schools chose only the best students, leaving the public school system with harder cases.
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“Over two-thirds of the students in charter schools are students of color. Over 50 percent are low-income students,” she said. “And, national polls have consistently shown that support among black Democrats and Hispanic Democrats for charter schools is extremely high. For black Democrats, it’s about 50 percent, for Hispanics it’s roughly 50 percent.”
“[Charter] schools have more independence. They have more autonomy to hire the best teachers, to expand the school day and the school year without having to negotiate with a central bureaucracy,” Rees added. “That flexibility is paramount to the achievements that they’re gaining and that is disrupting the system.”
She also said charter schools have been designed for students who had trouble learning and felt left behind by the public school system.
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“The majority of the students attending charter schools are students who were traditionally not being served very well by the establishment, by the traditional school districts,” she said. “Most of them are low-income students. A good number of them are special needs students… So they’re going to these schools because these schools are offering a better option than what they were getting in that one-size-fits-all system.”
Rees added, “When you compare apples to apples, you still see that there’s something in the charter school water that is benefiting the students in the system and you certainly don’t want to confine low-income families, in particular, into schools that their parents don’t want them to attend.”