Speaking to Lily Eskelen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he had the same feeling that the NEA has about charter schools, adding that no “private charter school will receive a penny of federal money. None.”
Garcia asked Biden, “So I have one more question.”
Biden answered, “Sure.”
Garcia continued, “There are lots of people who think there are other ways to solve all of these problems and NEA members have pushed back against what we think are very misguided school reforms, like charter schools. Regularly now we’ve seen families and communities who will join us in fighting to save that neighborhood public school. You know how we feel about charter schools.”
Biden: Same way I feel.
Garcia: We’d like to know how you feel about charter schools.
Biden, shaking his head, stated, “I will not — there will be no federal dollars — I’m not Betsy DeVos — nor will my, my Secretary of Education be anything like her in terms of her attitudes about public schools. No privately funded charter school will receive or private charter school will receive a penny of federal money. None.”
“And any charter school that, in fact, is worthy of being able to be in education, would have to be accountable to the same exact school boards, the same exact mechanisms that the public school is accountable to across the board,” Biden continued. “There has to be transparency. Now a lot of these charter schools are significantly underperforming, significantly. I can see where you can have a school, for example, a specialty school in the arts or for music. But if you’re going to have a charter school, it cannot come at the expense of the public school. It cannot come at the expense of the public school. We have to fully fund them. And any charter school that qualifies as essentially a chartered public school has to be accountable to the same standards, the same requirements, the same transparency as the public schools in that district are accountable to, meaning the Board of Education or whatever the mechanism and the controls of that school board.”
As the iconic economist Thomas Sowell, who is black, wrote in The Wall Street Journal in June, “Teachers unions and traditional public school administrators have every reason to fear charter schools.” He noted that students in charter schools in New York City outperformed students in public schools in 2019. He also pointed out that tens of thousands of students were on waiting lists for the charter schools, and the public schools would lose roughly $1 billion if those students transferred:
New York’s charter school students are predominantly black and Hispanic, and live in low-income neighborhoods. In 2019, most students in the city’s public schools failed to pass the statewide tests in mathematics and English. But most of the city’s charter school students passed in both subjects.
Such charter school results undermine theories of genetic determinism, claims of cultural bias in the tests and assertions that racial “integration” is necessary for blacks to reach educational parity with whites.
The success of New York City’s charter schools is not only a threat to educational dogmas. Competition from charter schools is an existential threat to traditional public schools in low-income minority communities, which tend to have even lower educational outcomes than traditional public schools as a whole. … by and large, in New York City the hard data in my new book, “Charter Schools and Their Enemies,” show most charter schools doing decisively better than the traditional public schools housed in the same buildings with them.
Teachers unions and traditional public school administrators have every reason to fear charter schools. In 2019 there were more than 50,000 New York City students on waiting lists to transfer into charter schools. If that many students were allowed to transfer, in a city where expenditures per pupil are more than $20,000 a year, the result would be that more than a billion dollars a year would transfer with them to charter schools.