Sen. Bernie Sanders is praising public education and teachers.
Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a neoliberal group that supports the privatization of public schools, is unfairly making Sanders out to be a flip-flopper on charter schools.
When asked about whether he supports charter schools, Sanders says he “supports public charter schools.” He says the same thing over-and-over and the emphasis is always on “public.” Many, myself included, don’t believe there are many truly public charter schools left.
But one can argue that charter schools approved by local school boards, run by rules, and sometimes by actual teachers or principals, are public. Some of the older charter schools were like that. And some public charter schools are still good schools.
In last night’s debate a Teach for America recruit also quizzed Sanders, giving unjust praise to charters.
Sanders, simply said again that he supported public charter schools but not private.
CNN’s Roland Martin also claimed that many African-Americans like charters and vouchers. Sen. Sanders reiterated that he supported public charter schools, and he brought up a school in Vermont. There was a little confusion about whether it was a magnet school.
There are some on social media that are making a big deal out of this. I think that was the intention of DFER. While I’m not a supporter of charter schools, I think this is being blown out of proportion.
Sanders has spoken out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel because of his record on closing schools and firing teachers in Chicago.
This past weekend, while the attention was on the Trump ruckus there, Bernie Sanders met with parents and teachers. Here is 6th grader, Asean Johnson, introducing Sanders and speaking eloquently to a crowd about the loss of public schools to charter schools due to funding cuts. After speaking, Asean introducted Sen. Bernie Sanders who had been there all along.
Let’s also look at the video that circulated this past weekend on social media. It’s a tough Sen. Sanders who, in 2011, pushes Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a variety of issues about schools and children.
This video provides precious insight into a Senator that is asking excellent questions.
So why the focus on his public charter school statement? Maybe it helps to revisit the original concept of a charter school.
Ray Budde, an educator turned principal, turned college professor to work with teachers, wrote a paper with some ideas about reorganizing school districts. Budde was fascinated with school systems.
When he introduced charters as small schools within public school settings, teachers were to run them.
But charter schools evolved into a totally different concept. They were used to shut down traditional public schools and the claim was made that they were better schools. To this day there is no proof that this is true.
A lot of the charter schools today are not run by teachers, and many of them are private chain charters like Rocketship, Green Dot, Imagine, Heritage to name a few.
Still, there are some good charter schools that hung on from earlier years, run by real teachers.
Some educators and parents cling to the hope that one day we will get the old concept of teacher-run charter schools back.
Both the AFT and the NEA support well-run public charter schools and so does Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton also took some heat, as DFER notes, for stating that charter schools should not reject students. We all know of charter schools that do not accept students with special needs, or second language students.
I think the Clintons have also noticed how charter schools have strayed from the original concept.
Hillary Clinton later highlighted her support for charter schools like she was penitent for her earlier criticism about them.
Bernie Sanders’s emphasis on the word “public” is what matters most in my opinion. I would not get my knickers in a knot over the public charter school reference.
Kolderie, Ted. “Ray Budde and the Origins of the ‘Charter Concept.'” Education Evolving. June 2005.