“Progressive” 2020 Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Who Support Charter Schools

More writers, commentators, and researchers are increasingly reminding the public that a large number of democrats at all levels of government have long supported and promoted privately-operated charter schools that annually siphon billions of public dollars from thousands of over-tested and vilified public schools.

The oft-repeated myth that the privatization and destruction of public education has always largely been “a Republican thing” or “a right-wing thing” is slowly dissolving. It was always a fairytale. Just like the widely-rejected No Child Left Behind Act, and its much-worse successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act, nonprofit and for-profit charter schools continue to have bipartisan support: both parties of the rich support these “free market” schools plagued by corruption, discriminatory enrollment practices, low transparency, high teacher turnover rates, intense controversy, and a high rate of failure and closure.

Some Democrats here and there have broken ranks and come out opposing, or at least criticizing, charter schools, but mostly to save face or to self-servingly incubate a specialized voting bloc for themselves in a discredited political system. The next few months will be revealing in terms of which democrats at different levels of government will represent the public will and have the courage to vocally oppose charter schools and unequivocally defend public schools instead.

Many are not holding their breath.

Pete Buttigieg is the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of almost two dozen 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Much of the mainstream media is touting him as a great progressive guy, a breath of fresh air, someone we might be able to get behind. But Buttigieg has unabashedly made it clear that he is not opposed to charter schools, repeating worn-out disinformation like charter schools are laboratories of innovation others can learn from.

Beto O’Rourke, another young Democratic presidential candidate (from Texas) who is also receiving many glowing reviews from the mainstream media, supports charter schools even more than Buttigieg. In fact, O’Rourke’s wife, Amy Sanders O’Rourke, founded a charter school in the couple’s hometown of El Paso, Texas.

In addition, U.S. Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, also a Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful, has not come out and opposed charter schools in clear and unambiguous terms. He actually has a long history of supporting charter schools.

And pseudo-socialist Bernie Sanders, for his part, has yet to issue a firm and principled statement opposing charter schools. Many other “progressive” Democrats are in the same boat: they can’t seem to find a way to reject anticonsciousness and defend the public interest in a principled and straightforward manner.

People must remain vigilant about the pernicious agendas and schemes constantly being imposed on them by the rich and their representatives. They must not let intense elections hysteria, disinformation, and amnesia overcome them and cloud their thinking and outlook. Billionaires and those who govern on their behalf are rapidly destroying public education, society, healthcare, the economy, and the environment with impunity.

At the end of the day, the historic task of opposing the destructive privatization of education and defending public education still falls on the shoulders of the working class and people themselves. Only they can save society from the rich, their political representatives, and their irresponsible media.

The power to decide the direction and content of education must always reside with the entire polity, not billionaires and their retinue. Believing that the rich, their media, and all those who govern on their behalf are going to make decisions that favor the public interest is not the way forward. The working class and people need their own independent thinking, outlook, politics and leadership. The only thing that those with class power and privilege can do is keep preparing more tragedies for the people.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.