WASHINGTON DC, (Washington Insider Magazine) – Charter schools are by far the most successful innovation in public education of the last half-century — notably, the first to regularly offer first-rate schooling to lower-income, urban black and Hispanic families. Yet the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress (and in state legislatures such as New York’s) are looking to strangle them.
The latest: The House Appropriations Committee last week voted to slash federal support for charters by nearly a tenth, from $440 million to $400 million, in a spending plan that nearly doubles overall education spending to $102 billion.
Worse, it also pushes a new rule banning charters (but not regular public schools) that get any federal funds from contracting with any for-profit entity to “operate, oversee or manage” any school activities — language so vague, it could apply to use of private testing companies, curriculum consultants or even school lunch services.
Not that charters are the only educational alternative that Democrats hate: A few weeks ago, the same committee moved, in its funding bill for DC’s local government, to start shutting down the $18 million-a-year DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives grants to low-income families to attend private schools.
At least 90 percent of kids in this program graduate high school, more than twice the 40 percent rate of the city’s public schools. And they come from families with average yearly incomes of under $24,000, nine in 10 of them black or Hispanic.
Meanwhile, the Dems who control New York’s Legislature absolutely refuse to even consider lifting the cap on charters, which is preventing at least a dozen promising schools from opening, including Urban Dove in western Queens, which would be a “second chance” academy for struggling teens, and the Minisink school in Harlem, which is sponsored by the Mission Society, the city’s oldest anti-poverty group.
Oh, and President Biden opted not to issue a presidential proclamation for Charter School Week, breaking a three-decade tradition honored by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
The motives here are no mystery at all: It’s all about the politicians’ loyalty to teachers unions, which hate charters and all other forms of educational choice because regular public school systems serve the unions best.
And never mind that the pandemic just exposed the unions’ utter selfishness, as they used their power to keep many public schools shuttered across the nation — even after the science made it plain that it would be perfectly safe and even as private and parochial schools (and indeed public schools in much of the country and the world) reopened without a hitch.
No matter that the kids lost out — and disproportionately the low-income minority children whom the left always claims to care so much about.
Democrats from Biden on down talk a lot these days about “systematic racism” — referring to ways existing power structures keep minorities down. It’s past time they started pointing that finger at themselves.