It’s a foregone conclusion that whatever Democrat wins the nomination will, in large part, have the teachers’ unions to thank for it.
Teachers put the NRA to shame when it comes to exercising their influence. They are the most politically active pressure group in the country and no Democrat is likely to win the nomination without a sizable percentage of them backing their candidacy.
So it’s not surprising that Democratic candidates shamelessly pander for their votes — even if that means embracing an education agenda that does demonstrable harm to America’s poor and disadvantaged kids.
The largest teacher’s union is the National Education Association. They released a series of interviews with various candidates, among them, Elizabeth Warren. In her bid for support, she proudly mentioned her opposition to expanding charter schools in Boston.
Why does Warren hate poor families?
In one sense, Warren is correct. The fact that she opposed the Massachusetts initiative does prove how far she is willing to go to maintain teachers’-union support. But what it says about her willingness to follow evidence, and to value the needs of low-income parents, is deeply worrisome.
Boston has probably the most effective public charter schools in America, producing enormous learning gains for the most disadvantaged children. “Charter schools in the urban areas of Massachusetts have large, positive effects on educational outcomes,” reported a Brookings study. “The effects are particularly large for disadvantaged students, English learners, special education students, and children who enter charters with low test scores.” Researchers have asked and answered every possible objection: Boston’s charters are not “skimming” the best students, they do scale up, and they do not harm students left behind in traditional public schools. (Indeed, “charter expansion has a small positive effect on non-charter students’ achievement.”)
Charter schools are a clear and present danger to teachers’ unions because of their emphasis on excellence and the fact that they clearly outperform public schools. The excuses used by unions to oppose them simply don’t hold up to scrutiny.
But Warren is proud of her opposition to expanding a good idea to give more poor parents a choice in educating their kids.
“The educators said, uh-uh, this is about draining money out of the schools, and I fought on the side of the educators. Public dollars must stay in public schools,” she continues — following the union convention of defining charter schools, which have open enrollment and no tuition as not being “public.”
Here’s what she told the NEA interviewer about what the parents of disadvantaged kids should do if they don’t want their kids in public school:
“I had a lot of folks visit my office and say, ‘I love my charter school,’” Warren said in the video about constituents who wanted her to support expanding the charter cap. My question always was, ‘If you don’t like your public school, what’s going to happen to the rest of the children who are there?’ Because we don’t have an obligation to just a handful of our children. We have an obligation to all of our children.”
“If you think your public school is not working, then go help your public school. Go help get more resources for it. Volunteer at your public schools. Help get the teachers and school bus drivers and cafeteria workers and the custodial staff and the support staff, help get them some support so they can do the work that needs to be done. You don’t like the building? You think it’s old and decaying? Then get out there and push to get a new one.”
If she had told a bunch of suburban parents that, they would have laughed her out of the room. As it is, what she said was cruel and shows just how much she will grovel before a powerful interest group to get their votes.