We have been waiting for a member of the media to ask the Democratic and Republican candidates. Finally it happened, though not on national television. Journalist Roland Martin in South Carolina asked Hillary Clinton about her views on charter schools. Her answer suggests that she realizes the issues surrounding private management of public dollars.
“The original idea, Roland, behind charter schools was to learn what worked and then apply them in the public schools. And here’s a couple of problems. Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.
“So I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system — not outside of it — but within it because I am still a firm believer that the public school system is one of the real pillars of our democracy and it is a path for opportunity.”
The Clinton administration supported charters. We know a lot more about them now than we did in the 1990s. I would like to see the federal government cut funding completely for for-profit charters and for virtual charters. I hope the Feds set standards for all charters regarding financial transparency and accountability, discipline, suspension, and teacher qualifications, as well as their responsibility to enroll students with disabilities and English language learners that at least as high as the surrounding public schools. Public money requires public accountability.