A poll by the American Federation for Children indicates the majority of Democratic primary voters favor continuing to fund charter schools.
The results of the poll present a significant problem for several of the leading Democratic candidates for president, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who have both called for a ban on for-profit charter schools and an end to federal funding of the expansion of charter schools.
A majority of rank-and-file Democratic voters, however, are highly supportive of continuing and expanding charter schools, as the results of the American Federation for Children poll indicate.
“Voters Are Wary of Candidates Who Would Eliminate All Federal Public Charter School Funding,” one section of the polling memo states:
- A majority of voters, including a majority of Democratic primary voters, are less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who
wanted to eliminate all federal public charter school funding.
- Overall, 58% of voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s position, but the policy also is unpopular with Democratic primary voters (56% less likely) and even less popular among African-Americans (62% less likely) and Latinos (65% less likely).
- This stance is more likely to hurt Warren than help her since just 11% of Democratic primary voters report that they would be much more likely to support a candidate who would eliminate all federal funding for public charters.
High levels of support for charter schools among African-American poses a significant problem for the Democrat presidential candidates who oppose charter schools because the Trump administration firmly supports the continued expansion of charter schools. Historically, African-American voters have voted for Democrat presidential candidates overwhelmingly, but some polls indicate Donald Trump’s support could jump dramatically from the eight percent he received in 2016.
Sen. Warren is aggressively going after charter schools.
In her education plan announced in October, she promised, if elected president, to “(1) End federal funding for the expansion of charter schools . . . (2) Ban for-profit charter schools . . . and (3) Direct the the IRS to investigate so-called nonprofit schools that are violating the statutory requirements for nonprofits: Many so-called nonprofit schools – including charter schools – operate alongside closely held, for-profit service providers.”
Sen. Sanders is also an opponent of charter schools.
“Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system,” Sanders declared in his education policy platform:
Moreover, the proliferation of charter schools has disproportionately affected communities of color – 17 percent of charter schools are 99 percent minority, compared to 4 percent of traditional public schools. This has led the NAACP, the NEA, AFT and others to criticize the charter movement for intensifying racial segregation.
The damage to communities caused by unregulated charter school growth must be stopped and reversed.
Specifically, Sanders supports: “[a] (1) Ban for-profit charter schools and support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state. . . .(2) Mandating that charter schools comply with the same oversight requirements as public schools. . . (3) Matching employment practices at charters with neighboring district schools, including standards set by collective bargaining agreements and restrictions on exorbitant CEO pay. . . (4) Supporting the efforts of charter school teachers to unionize and bringing charter schools to the negotiating table.”
“Their stated plans would cause a dramatic upheaval in the charter school community, which includes more than 7,000 schools and roughly 3.2 million students,” Education Week reported of the proposed charter school policies of Warren and Sanders in November.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who once supported charter schools, now also wants to stop their expansion.
The poll results also create another political problem for the Democrat contenders, since the increasingly partisan teachers’ unions, and especially the burgeoning #RedforEd movement, are strongly opposed to the expansion of charter schools.
As Breitbart News has reported extensively, #RedforEd is a teacher powered and union supported political movement whose objective is to defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Among the remaining Democrat presidential contenders, Michael Bloomberg, who supported charter schools while mayor of New York City, will reportedly continue that support when his education plan is unveiled soon.