Elizabeth Warren is the candidate with “a plan for everything,” including public education. There are some good ideas in there—such as ending zero-tolerance discipline policies and $100 billion in “Excellence Grants” for any public school (including charter schools, believe it or not.)
But tucked away at the end is a poison pill under the subtitle: “Combating the Privatization and Corruption of Our Public Schools.” Sounds ominous, but is it accurate?
Not even close. Some of the union-approved talking points found include:
- “Charters … strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color.”
Does Warren realize more than 60 percent of charter students are students of color? And that study after study finds that these students fare better in charter schools than kids who look like them in traditional public schools? Pssst, including the state she represents in the Senate, where “charter schools in the urban areas of Massachusetts have large, positive effects on educational outcomes.”
- “Ban on for-profit charter schools.”
First of all, the federal government can’t do this, as charter laws are written by states. Also, only 12 percent of charters are for-profit, and exist only in Wisconsin, California, Michigan and Arizona. This is a favorite red herring of hacks like union shill Peter Greene, intended to mislead the public into thinking that charters are somehow “stealing” public dollars.
- “Ban self-dealing in nonprofit schools to prevent funneling resources to service providers.”
This is rich. Yes, there are flagrant cases of charter schools funneling money to for-profit service companies to enrich their leaders. But this problem is hardly unique to charters. Traditional districts and schools are and have always been rife with financial fraud. This is an accountability and oversight problem that curbing charter growth does nothing to prevent. In reality, charters are as good as the laws which create them. Just look at Massachusetts, where Warren praised her home state’s charter laws as “successful, thoughtful, and innovative.”
Parents of Color See Through It
In response, dozens of parents of color called out Warren’s pandering plan and demanded she do better by families who’ve been left out and behind by the very school districts she verbally praises but personally avoided for her son. More recently, she told the NEA that: “If you think your public school is not working, then go help your public school. Go help get more resources for it.”
Many of these parents specifically select charter schools because of generational deprivation at the hands of school districts. For those who can’t afford private schools, there are few other options. Yet, in attacking what little opportunity public education affords these parents, Warren persists.
Naturally, the union-funded status quo defense apparatus sprung into action, calling the parents’ motives and intelligence into question. Worse yet, some on Twitter claimed the fuss was much ado about nothing and the parents “incoherent”:
When Warren writes, “as President, I would eliminate this [federal] charter school program and end federal funding for the expansion of charter schools,” this is an imminent threat to families with limited education options. This is a direct threat to what many families consider a lifeline for their children.
No, parents like Warren and Diane Ravitch aren’t concerned about losing charter schools as an option (or relegating them to the same bureaucratic backwater that plagues districts), because they simply send their kids to private schools or (gasp) the ultimate bastion of privilege and segregation in public education: magnet schools.
If only Warren spoke about the entrenched interests of the education blob as she did on a recent NYT podcast about the financial sector:
I just didn’t care about the banks and the big donors. If you thought I was wrong in what families needed, tell me. But nobody ever did. You know what everybody said to me? It’s a great idea, but don’t even try to do it because the banks call the shots—the big money calls the shots. And they’re gonna keep this from getting done.
Replace “banks and donors” with “union leaders and bloated district bureaucrats” and she’s spot on.
Don’t be rope-a-doped by salacious union-talking points disguised as serious public policy. Much of Warren’s plan is driven from a tremendous point of privilege. She shouldn’t be surprised when parents who don’t buy the charades check her and insist on a refresh to her plan that takes into account their lived experiences.