Monday, November 23, 2020

AV #219 - Thank you Democrats - and a question on where you stand, today, on charter schools?


 THANK YOU, D’s – and a question 

Whither the Democratic Party in Colorado?

On public education reform and choice and charters, a party that seeks to unify – or divide?


After defeating Trump, Biden faces a Democratic Party straining at the seams,” Boston Globe, Nov. 16, 2020

Since Election Day, the reckoning between the two wings of the party has taken place in contentious conference calls, dueling memos, and pointed media interviews.

A season in which we give thanks. As this Independent voter does here. Although in thanking Democrats for where they have been, I am also asking: where does the Democratic Party in Colorado stand, today, on issues of school autonomy and independence, on charter schools and parent choice?                        

President-elect Joe Biden stresses his goal, to unify a divided country. Are Democrats in our state eager to unify their own party around a more inclusive and expansive view of public education, one which includes support for a governance model that today has over a 25-year history and now serves more than 125,000 students in over 260 public schools across Colorado?

Or, instead, to borrow the phrase often used to lambaste our current President, are Democrats determined to build a wall? To limit or shut down this new option for families and for educators? To go so far as to boo your fellow Democrat off the stage, apparently for supporting charters? This is the party of Inclusion?

But to return to my larger theme – here on Thanksgiving week, a sincere THANK YOU!

Thank you to the many Democrats who have been key figures in the creation and implementation of the charter school law and the option it has provided so many families these past 27 years.

1) Thank you to the Democrats who supported expanding public school options in the early 1990’s.

Thank you to the late Rep. Peggy Kerns, the Aurora Democrat who so-sponsored Senate Bill 183, the Charter School Act of 1993, along with then Senator Bill Owens.


A – Former Senate President Peter Groff

B – Former House Speaker Terrance Carroll

C – Former Superintendent Michael Bennet

D – Governor Jared Polis

E – Which Democratic Party? Colorado

F – Which Democratic Party? Nationally

Thank you to State Senators Larry Trujillo (Pueblo) and Mike Johnson (Denver) and State Representatives Jim Dyer, Bob Hagedorn, and Peggy Reeves for joining their fellow Democrat Kerns in sponsoring the Charter School Act of 1993. 

Thank you to Barbara O’Brien (then head of the Colorado Children’s Campaign) and to the late Royce Forsyth (then a member of the Colorado State Board of Education) for providing testimony in support of SB 183.

Thank you to Gov. Roy Romer, who advocated for the Charter School Act and then signed it into law.

Thank you to Gov. Romer’s aides, Bill Porter and Joy Fitzgerald, for all the behind-the-scenes work to help with the passage of SB 183.

2) Thank you to Democrats who played a central role in supporting this option in the 2000’s  

Their words in support of charter schools follow in the Addenda. 

Thank you to former Colorado Senate President Peter Groff (first elected to the House in 2000, and then to the Senate in 2003, representing District 33 until 2009) for supporting charter schools in the Colorado legislature and then on the national scene. In 2010 Groff became the head of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In 2011 he became a senior adviser with the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Groff is Principal and Chief Strategist at MCG2 Consulting, LLC.  (See Addendum A)

Thank you to former Colorado Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll (Representative of Denver’s 7th district from 2003-2011) for his leadership and support of charter schools during his eight years at the Colorado legislature, including his sponsorship of the Colorado Charter School Institute, which currently serves as the authorizer of 42 charter schools enrolling over 18,000 students. (See Addendum B)

Thank you to Senator Michael Bennet, who, during his three-plus years as Superintendent of the Denver Pubic Schools, set a new direction for the district on charter schools. (See Addendum C)

Thank you to members of the Denver School Board who advanced that new direction, welcoming many strong charter school proposals: Nate Easley, Rosemary Rodriguez, Bruce Hoyt, Theresa Pena, Lisa Flores, Anne Rowe, Mike Johnson, and again, Barbara O’Brien, among others. Five of the first seven charter schools in the district closed*, so there was good reason for the skepticism among many in DPS as to the benefits of the charter option. It took courage for these DPS school board members to take a fresh look. After the first decade of the charter school law Denver only had 10 charters; today there are 58 charter schools in DPS. (*Clayton Charter School, PS 1 Charter, Pioneer Charter School, and Challenges, Choice, & Images, and Denver Arts & Technology Academy.)

And thank you to Gov. Jared Polis, who helped start the New America School in 2004, which opened and still runs three charter schools in Colorado “dedicated to serving a unique population – recent immigrants and their families and children who want to learn or perfect English and earn a high school diploma, non-traditional students, and traditional students seeking a more personal atmosphere that fits their learning needs” ( As a member of the Colorado State Board of Education, as a Congressman, and as Governor, he has continued to articulate a position shared by many Democrats about the potential of charter schools. When he ran for Governor, he expressed his continued support of the charter option. “Parents value choice in public education.” (See Addendum D

Is AV #219 merely a (nostalgic) thank you to the Democratic Party that was? I hope not. As the Addenda will show, we hear mixed messages from Democrats these days. Are those Democrats winning races of late for the state and local school boards, well-aligned with the teachers’ union in their negative view charters (see AV #215), the voice of the Democratic Party today? Are they willing to divide the party on this issue?

NOTE to Colorado Democrats. Independent voters are the largest “bloc” of voters in our purple state. Which is why the intolerance shown by some Democrats towards charter school advocates, within their own party—booing off the stage? (Addendum E)—is so mean-spirited and self-defeating.… But again, to return… 

It is Thanksgiving. I am trying to be grateful. Over 260 new choices today. More every year. My sincere thanks to all, whatever your party, who have expanded the options for K-12 public education in our state. 



                                Addendum A – Peter Groff

“The Progressive Choice: Creating 21st Century School Systems,” by Peter Groff, 9/11/2018

 A 21st century school system is built on four pillars. [Here are two of his four]:

·        School Autonomy -  School systems for the 21st century transfer authority over operational decisions at schools – but not district-wide policy – to those who run schools. School leaders have autonomy to choose, among other things, their educational models, staffs, budgets, curricula, and school calendars. Top-down mandates by central district offices often hamstring principals and teachers, undermining their ability to educate and sometimes driving them out of public education. School-level decision making allows for innovation and problem solving. The people who work at the schools best understand the needs of their students. When they have authority over the school-level decisions, they can positively impact student learning.

·    Public School Choice - …  If we want different educational environments for different children, we must give their families a choice. On top of that, attendance zones limited to one or two neighborhoods inherently disadvantage our nation’s most impoverished students, often forcing them into chronically underperforming schools. Only 27 percent of millennials believe a student’s home address should determine where they go to school – another sign that progressives support public school choice. Furthermore, 86 percent of African-American Democratic voters, 67 percent of Latino Democratic voters, and 65 percent of all voters agree that “ensuring parents have a variety of public school options for their kids – including charter schools, magnet schools, and career academies – no matter where they live or how much money they have” is a very important priority. Systems of public school choice allow for all students to have an opportunity to attend a “best-fit school.”


Public charter schools, innovation schools and innovation zones, and public school choice are deeply rooted in, and reflective of, progressive values. Twenty-first century school systems inspired by the success of chartering and innovation schools will change the trajectory of millions of children. For the past 25 years, our nation’s most progressive leaders have whole-heartedly endorsed this movement, because at the heart of these reforms are longstanding liberal ideas: empowering educators and creating equal opportunity for all of America’s children.



                        Addendum B – Terrance Carroll

COLORADO POLITICS: You were a big champion of school choice and education reform in the General Assembly. It’s a set of issues that has been known to divide your party. How did you come to be such a vocal advocate of charter schools in particular, and why is there still pushback against charters within some segments of the Democratic spectrum?

Carroll: I remain a champion of education reform and suspect that I always will be.  I came to my position on education reform as a result of my life experience. I was born to a single mother and raised in a very poor Washington, D.C., neighborhood. My educational options were very limited. Thankfully, my mother, although a domestic worker lacking a formal education, understood the inherent value of quality education and sacrificed to provide me the educational opportunities I needed to be successful. My commitment to education reform is a direct result of my mother’s sacrifice and advocacy. She not only fought for me but she also fought for every kid in my neighborhood to have access to quality public schools. I do my best to honor my mother through my commitment to ensuring that all our children have the same access to opportunities that I had. Unfortunately, some in the Democratic Party portray advocacy for education reform as anti-public school. That is simply not true. Education reformers are dedicated to improving educational outcomes by expanding access to high quality public schools, whether they be traditional or charter schools.


                         Addendum C – Michael Bennet

“Denver Expands Choice and Charters,” by David Osborne, Education Next, Summer 2016

2007 - Bennet and the board responded with a call for dramatic change. “It is hard to admit,” they wrote, “but it is abundantly clear that we will fail the vast majority of children in Denver if we try to run our schools the same old way.” The district should “no longer function as a one-size-fits-all, centralized, industrial age enterprise making choices that schools, principals, teachers, and most, most important, parents are in a much better position to make for themselves.” Instead, it should “function more like a partner, building capacity and leadership at the school level and serving as an incubator for innovation.”

2008 - That spring the Rocky Mountain News splashed a full-page photo across its cover of the first graduating class from DSST, a charter school. Every one of its graduates had gained admission to college—the first time that had happened in a Denver school with many low-income students. Bill Kurtz, founding head of the school, believes that was a turning point. “When I came to Denver,” he says, “there was a mindset that not all kids can go to college, that your income and race would determine that.” But DSST’s accomplishments gave “the leadership of the district an understanding that what was thought impossible was possible.”

Senate Passes Alexander, Bennet Resolution Celebrating                                                        20th Annual National Charter Schools Week” – May 2019

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2019 — This week, the U.S. Senate passed Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-Colo.) resolution celebrating the 20th annual National Charter Schools Week, which runs from May 12 through May 18, 2019, and commends the students, parents, teachers, and leaders of our nation’s more than 7,000 charter schools across 44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

   “Charter schools give teachers more freedom to teach and parents more freedom to choose the school that best suits their child,” said Alexander. “… This National Charter Schools Week, we continue to show bipartisan support for charter schools, which give students a real opportunity to attend a school that’s right for them.”

“Every child deserves an excellent education that will prepare them for success in a twenty-first century economy,” said Bennet. “National Charter Schools Week is an opportunity to celebrate the teachers, leaders, and parents who work hard every day to expand students’ opportunities in life.”                    

[The resolution was cosponsored by Democratic Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J), Tom Carper (D- Del.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), along with over 20 Republican Senators.]


“Just Two 2020 Candidates, Bennet and Warren,

Discuss Charter Schools at Education Election Forum,” Dec. 15, 2019 

Just two candidates fielded questions about the topic, despite it being one of the few in K-12 that really divides the candidates, and candidates from many voters: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose proposal to crack down on charters has attracted widespread criticism and protest from charter advocates.

   Charter supporters protested outside of the event and parent advocates say they were turned away when they tried to enter the Pittsburgh convention center…

    One high-profile advocate said it “wasn’t surprising” that candidates didn’t bring up charters at a union-sponsored event.

   “Despite the fact that charter schools level the education playing field for students stuck in failing schools, some of the candidates vying to lead the Democratic party and our nation can’t bring themselves to put students’ needs ahead of their desire to appease special interest groups and big campaign contributors,” Nina Rees, president of the Charter School Action Fund, said in a statement.

   More supportive was Bennet, previously superintendent of schools in Denver, a city with a robust charter sector. Charters “have been a useful element” but “aren’t the be-all or end-all,” and they won’t be the way to scale good schools for all kids, he said.

   He pointed in particular to Denver’s accountability requirements that hold charters to the same standards as district schools and require them to serve the same number of students with disabilities and English language learners.

   “I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot more perfect” than other places, he said.


“Has the Democratic Party Reversed Its Attitude on Charters?”

Citizen Truth, by Jeff Bryant, Dec. 20, 2019 

   A national forum on education comprised of 2020 presidential candidates reveals a party moving away from charter schools and failed reforms.

   Bennet also faced close questioning by reporters on this year’s teacher strike in Denver that resulted in the district tossing out the teacher merit pay system Bennet had installed during his tenure. Another journalist questioned whether a recent school board election that brought into office a slate of candidates who opposed policies Bennet initiated signaled that Denver voters were rejecting the whole array of reforms Bennet had instigated, including not only teacher merit pay, but also school closures in black and brown neighborhoods and a wave of new charter schools that often employ harsh disciplinary practices to drive the test scores of students of color upward and push out the low achievers.

   Bennet said he was “not offended” that the district is changing some of his policies but that his “ideology hasn’t been discredited.”

   But the overall impression of Bennet’s visit to the Public Education Forum 2020 was that his foundering campaign—polls consistently place him at rock bottom in voter support—was not helped by being a self-proclaimed education candidate at a national event focused on education that was attended primarily by educators.

   The polite applause he received from the crowd contrasted noticeably from the standing ovations that greeted both Sanders and Warren. Numerous attendees posted negative reactions to his comments on Twitter. And popular education bloggers in the audience noted how “unimpressed” the crowd was with what Bennet had to say.

   Moreover, the tepid reception Bennet got was emblematic of how Democratic voters, at least those who are aligned with teachers and public schools, are taking the party in a completely different direction on the most urgent education issues, including charter schools, standardized testing, and mainstays of current education policy. And most of the candidates are following them.


“Democratic Presidential Candidate Michael Bennet Breaks With Party,

Supports School Choice, Charter Schools”

New Boston Post, by Tom Joyce, Feb. 10, 2020

   A Democratic candidate for president breaks with most in his party on school choice and charter schools:  He’s for them.

   U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado – a former superintendent of the public schools in Denver – says kids need more options.

   However, Bennet said he has differences on the issue with some conservative supporters of charter schools and school choice. For example, while he is in favor of public charter schools, he doesn’t support public funded charter schools under private control.

   He said that during his tenure as superintendent in Denver, he never approved a private charter school for his city.


                         Addendum D - Jared Polis 

From 74 Interview: Colorado Rep. (and Gov. Hopeful) Jared Polis on Denver Schools, ESSA & Special Education,* June 12, 2017 

Given his Colorado education credentials, [Polis] was quick to fire back against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s criticism, leveled at a Washington think tank event in March, that Denver’s school choice system, while offering wide choice among district and charter schools, provides “limited choices.”

   “Private vouchers are NOT and should never be a litmus test for high-quality school choice. You should visit DPS and see for yourself,” he wrote at the end of a six-Tweet series praising Denver’s high-quality public choice system. 

There’s been something of a fracture in the education reform movement in recent months, exemplified by the recent letter by charter leaders arguing that more federal dollars for charter schools shouldn’t come at the expense of funding other programs that help kids. What’s your take?

   I think that the difference is, is that Betsy DeVos and the Republicans are talking a lot about low-quality options, and options for the sake of options. We want to make sure all of the options are good options. Democrats are supporters of district schools, of charter schools, of independent schools, of magnet schools, of every kind of school — it’s just a question of where best to focus our limited public resources to improve the learning opportunities for every child.


Historically there has been some opposition among Democrats in Congress to charter school programs, though it’s certainly limited. Do you see that changing? 

   I don’t see that as opposition to the concept of charter schools. I think there’s frustration with different state authorizing practices, some of it very legitimate, and members that come from those states that have low-quality authorizing practices and low-quality and for-profit providers are concerned about the quality of the education that’s given to some of the kids that go there, and some of those concerns are very legitimate. But it’s not about public charter schools, per se.



FromColorado 2018 election: Where Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton stand on education,by Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado, July 11, 2018

Should Colorado expand school choice further or do more to restrict it – and how would either be accomplished? Should Colorado use public money for private school vouchers? Should any new restrictions or rules be placed on charter schools?

Jared Polis (D) - Parents value choice in public education, and districts and charter schools offer a variety of options. What I care about is quality. I do not support vouchers going to unaccountable private schools and have opposed for-profit education throughout my entire career. I believe that public charter schools should be held accountable to the same budgetary, academic, and financial transparency as neighborhood public schools. Our top priority must be providing all of our public schools with the resources they need to provide every single Colorado child with a great education.


Addendum E

Which Democratic Party? Colorado

1.               “Colorado Democrats overwhelmingly reject Democrats for Education Reform at state assembly,” by

   Delegates at the Colorado Democratic state assembly Saturday sent a clear message to the state chapter of Democrats for Education Reform: You don’t have a place in our party.

   After booing down the head of the education reform organization, who described herself as a lifelong Democrat, delegates voted overwhelmingly Saturday to call for the organization to no longer use “Democrats” in its name. While it’s unclear how that would be enforced, the vote means a rejection of DFER is now part of the Colorado Democratic Party platform.

   The one-sided platform fight revealed a growing divide among party activists and establishment politicians on education policy …

   The advisory committee of the Colorado chapter of Democrats for Education Reform like a “who’s who” of prominent party members and includes former speaker of the state House Mark Ferrandino, who now works for Denver Public Schools, and former state Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate and the author of several key education reform bills in Colorado. 

 2.    From “DFER Says Its Causes are 'Progressive,' Is Pouring $4 Million Into State Races,” by Daarel Burnette II, Education Week, August 7, 2018


   At a raucous statewide convention in April, members of Colorado's Democratic Party booed the state's DFER president Jennifer Walmer as she spoke in favor of charter schools. The convention then approved an amendment to the party's state platform that says, in part, "We oppose making Colorado's public schools private or run by private corporations or becoming segregated again through lobbying and campaigning efforts of the organization called Democrats for Education Reform and demand that they immediately stop using the party's name Democrat in their name."

   Nevertheless, to the Colorado's teacher union's dismay, U.S. House member Jared Polis, who has pushed for charter schools and vouchers in the past, won the Democratic nomination for governor in this year's Colorado contest.


3.    “Tapia fed up with fight over charters,” by Charles Ashby, Pueblo Chieftain, March 21, 2007 

DENVER - State Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, criticized the Pueblo City Schools Board of Education on Monday, complaining that the board was spending money suing a local charter school that could be better used for education.


   Senator Abel Tapia 


“I met with my school board president (Kathleen Kennedy) this weekend, and she chastised me about why I was not supporting public education.” Tapia, a former School District 60 (now Pueblo City Schools) board president, said on the floor of the Senate.     

“I told her that as far as I knew, charter schools were part of public education.”

   Tapia, who said there’s no reason why charter schools and traditional public schools can’t co-exist, scolded the Pueblo district for trying to squelch the academy as if they were competing for students, rather than to trying to improve its own students’ academic performance.

   Tapia also expressed anger with several school district educators who have said that some students aren’t smart enough to go to college and should be taught to their level.

   “I take exception to that. I think it’s terrific to try to get the kids to do just as much as they possibly can and push them to a higher level,” Tapia said. “The district in my (region) has spent about $500,000 fighting charter schools. This is $500,000 that could have been spent on kids. I think they’ve wasted $500,000. Instead of doing what they’re supposed to do and learn what is actually making this (academy) succeed.

   “Instead of fighting, we ought to adjust our normal public schools . . . and change the way we’re doing things,” Tapia added. “I keep on saying, if we don’t change the way we’re doing public education, we can’t expect the results to be any different.”

   “What I ended up telling my school board is, you’re going to have to start competing for these children,” Tapia said. “You’re going to have to offer a better product. You have to offer a product much like what the charters are doing so (students) stay in your school.”


Addendum F

Which Democratic Party? Nationally

1.     “Biden team to reverse policies quickly,” by Erica L. Green,

The New York Times Co., Nov. 13, 2019


WASHINGTON  - Unions were not seen as key players in the Obama administration’s coalition — the National Education Association called for the resignation of Mr. Obama’s first education secretary, Arne Duncan — and have been at odds with centrist Democrats on some policy issues, such as charter schools, which are supported by many Black and Latino families. Mr. Biden this summer reshaped the Democratic platform to embrace a ban on federal funding for for-profit charters, and to call for cutting funding to underperforming charters run by nonprofit organizations.

   “He’s coming in saying he wants to unify people, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that holds for education policy,” said Charles Barone, the director of policy at Democrats for Education Reform. “If you really respect the role of people who got you elected, are you going to come in and attack the choices they make for their children?”


2.     Open letter to President-Elect Biden (Nov. 12, 2020)

Mr. Biden, Will You Stand Up for Every Child, or Just Be Another Politician?


CHRIS STEWART: Driven by an entrenched sense of scarcity, we have seen the powerful lobbies representing public education systems position themselves as the victims of much smaller players in education. They have wrongfully labeled charter schools, private schools and home schools enemies of the common good. Education has become so divisive that many families who choose alternative learning programs for their children fear talking openly about their choices. I hope you live up to your promise of being a president for all Americans, even as national education leaders fail to include families who educate their children outside of the traditional system. Be a leader who heals divisions and brings people together even when the politics make that a challenging goal to achieve. 

   One major first step is ending the narrow view of how we educate children, how and what we teach and where education occurs. For example, instead of stoking ill will between district schools and charters and pitting parents in those schools against each other, we should find every opportunity to develop collaboration between the best of each of these school models. 

   The point here is that you are at a fork in the road. You can bend to the will of political groups who are vested in a one-size-fits-all education system, or you can stand up for all families who want and need a variety of educational opportunities. To date, you have mostly put teachers’ unions and their policy agenda first.

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of brightbeam. He was named CEO in April 2019, after formerly serving as chief executive of Wayfinder Foundation.


3.            Joe Biden – “Education in the 2020 Presidential Race,” Education Week, Candidates View, Fall 2020

Biden did not stand out among Democrats or in general for his views about charter schools and school choice during his time as a senator or as vice president. The Obama administration was generally supportive of charter schools. However, during his 2020 bid for the presidency, Biden has adopted much of the platform favored by teachers' unions and other skeptics of charters and various forms of choice. During the campaign, he has come out against charters operated by for-profit entities and criticized the approach to choice taken by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He's also said charter schools "siphon off" money from public schools. (However, charter schools are legally considered to be public schools.) However, he's also said that some charter schools do work. The Democratic Party Platform, which drew on recommendations from a task force assembled by Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, calls for significant new restrictions of how charters operate and are held accountable. The party platform also expresses strong opposition to vouchers. Quote: "I do not support any federal money for for-profit charter schools, period." (AFT Event, May 28, 2019)


4.     “Teachers unions will have newfound influence in a Biden administration. Here’s how they might use it,” Chalkbeat, bKalyn Belsha, Nov. 17, 2020

   No matter who ends up in the top job, teachers and their unions are poised to help shape the Biden administration’s approach to federal education policy.

   “Joe and I will never forget what you did for us,” Jill Biden told the heads of the NEA and the AFT on Monday as she thanked them for their members’ support during the election. “Joe and Kamala will not only listen to you, they’re going to make sure that your voices are leading this movement. Educators, this is our moment.”

   What that moment looks like, and where that influence might be felt most clearly, are the key questions now.

   Had the pandemic not upended this last school year, the answer might have been on issues like big funding boosts for public schools serving low-income students and a tougher stance on charter schools. Those union-aligned promises were a part of Biden’s campaign platform.

   Charter schools are likely to be another pressure point, though many observers agree that issue is likely to go on the back burner for now. On the campaign trail, Biden said he would seek to prevent federal funds from going to for-profit operators, but he hasn’t said what he intends to do with the federal grant program that funds charter school expansion.

   Charter schools are still popular within parts of the Democratic party, especially among Black and Latino parents. Teachers unions may press Biden to spend less on the expansion of charter schools, or to put stipulations on how that money can be spent, but the administration may want to avoid a contentious fight on that front.  



5.        From – “2020 NEA Policy Playbook for Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration,” Priorities for the significant work ahead, by National Education Association, 11/12/2020


   Public education should be our first priority. Any program that diverts resources from the traditional public schools that 90 percent of American students attend by definition undermines the promise of public education. The NEA is dedicated to addressing the inequalities our students and communities face, and most charter schools do not contribute to the systemic framework that ensures all students have access to a more equitable, safe, and dynamic learning environment.

   Where they operate, charter schools should be authorized and held accountable by the same agency that monitors and evaluates other schools in a public school district. They should be held to the same open meetings and public records requirements; federal, state, and local civil rights laws and regulations; and health and safety codes as traditional public schools. 


The National Education Association (NEA) calls on national leaders to: 

  • Oppose all charter school expansion that undermines traditional public schools.  
  • Bar federal funding to charter schools, charter school authorizers, and charter school management companies not authorized or operated by local school districts.
  • Require charter schools, charter school authorizers, and charter school management companies to abide by the same laws and regulations applicable to traditional public schools.


6.     Biden’s education transition team gets California leader: Linda Darling-Hammond,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2020.


Linda Darling-Hammond, a leading figure in California education policy, is heading the education transition team for President-elect Joe Biden, where she is expected to emphasize support for teachers and traditional public schools. One closely watched area in the Biden administration will be the growth of charter schools, which are privately operated, government-funded public schools. Most are nonunion. While not vocally opposed to charters, Darling-Hammond is generally considered to be an ally of teachers unions.


7.     “Jury split on whether Biden will benefit or harm school choice,” by Naaz Modan, Education Dive, Nov.11, 2020

   Although some have said Biden was “aggressively” against school choice, others disagree on what exactly his win means for education reformers. 

   Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in a statement the organization is “counting on the incoming Biden-Harris administration” to support public charter schools and provide parents with flexibility following “significant enrollment spikes” in light of the pandemic.

But American Federation for Children President John Schilling said in an email to Education Dive that while the Trump administration increased federal charter school spending by over $100 million, that will likely not be the case in a Biden White House, which may only show “modest charter school support.”  


8.      From “A DEMOCRATIC GUIDE TO PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS 2nd EDITION,” by Democrats for Education Reform, May 2019

From the Executive Summary

FROM THEIR ORIGINS IN THE 1980s up until the present day, public charter schools have enjoyed strong bipartisan support, including from many prominent Democrats. Some of the most notable Democratic and progressive public charter school champions include:

• Ember Reichgott Junge, a Democratic State Senator from Minnesota, who authored the nation’s first charter school law along with her Democratic colleagues Representatives Ken Nelson and Becky Kelso;

• Al Shanker, former President of the American Federation of Teachers, who was one of the earliest proponents of the public charter school model;

President Bill Clinton, who spearheaded passage of the first federal law designed specifically to support charter school start-ups;

President Barack Obama, who spurred states to lift caps on new charter schools and created the first-ever federal funding stream dedicated to replicating and expanding high-performing public charter schools;

• Democratic Governors such as Phil Bredesen, Jerry Brown, Andrew Cuomo, John Hickenlooper, Dannel Malloy, Gina Raimondo, and Jared Polis;

• Urban Mayors like Karl Dean, Rahm Emanuel, Vincent Gray, Michael Hancock, Mitch Landrieu, Tom Menino, and Antonio Villaraigosa; and

• Members of Congress, including Senators Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Chris Coons, Dianne Feinstein, and Mazie Hirono and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Cedric Richmond, Zoe Lofgren, AndrĂ© Carson, John Delaney, and Adriano Espaillat.

In undertaking this important work, these and other leaders understand that high-quality public charter schools embody bedrock progressive principles of opportunity and equity. They accept that pursuing those principles is never without adversity and struggle. And they exemplify the ideal of fighting on behalf of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals, which has always been one of the Democratic Party’s core missions. 


President Bill Clinton was one of the earliest proponents of charter schools from either political party. During his time in the White House, he spearheaded passage of the first federal charter school law in 1994 when there were charter school laws in just two states (Minnesota and California). The federal Charter School Program remains a major source of funding for charter start-ups and for replicating and expanding high-performing schools. “The idea behind charter schools is that not all kids are the same—they have different needs; they have different environments—but there is a certain common level of education that all kids need, no matter how different they are, and that it would be a good thing to allow schools to be developed which had a clear mission, which could reach out to kids who wanted to be a part of that mission, who could achieve educational excellence for children who otherwise might be left behind.” — Remarks at the City Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, May 3, 2013 


As president, Barack Obama led a new generation of Democrats to realize the value in the charter school model. “Charter schools play an important role in our country’s education system. Supporting some of our nation’s underserved communities, they can ignite imagination and nourish the minds of America’s young people while finding new ways of educating them and equipping them with the knowledge they need to succeed.” — Presidential Proclamation, National Charter Schools Week, April 14, 2016