For those of us who have been waiting patiently to hear more from the presidential candidates about their education platforms, this was a good week.
When asked if he supports public charter schools on Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders responded with a “yes,” making him the final presidential candidate to voice support for charter schools.
While John Kasich has been vocal about his support of charter schools previously, yesterday he became the first candidate to mention charter schools in a debate while answering a question about how to help Detroit’s schools:
“You need school choice, both vouchers and charter schools.”
The remaining presidential candidates have all previously voiced their support for charter schools.
Clinton praised the inclusion of provisions to expand high-quality charter schools in her statement on the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“The legislation also authorizes critical resources to support teacher development, increase access to early childhood education, and expand high-quality public charter schools.”
In Trump’s 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he writes:
“Our public schools are capable of providing a more competitive product than they do today. Look at some of the high school tests from earlier in this century and you’ll wonder if they weren’t college-level tests. And we’ve got to bring on the competition—open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children. Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition—the American way....”
At Liberty University in 2015, Cruz stated:
“Imagine embracing school choice as the civil rights issue of the next generation. That every single child, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth or zip code, every child in America has a right to a quality education. And that’s true from all of the above, whether it is public schools or charter schools or private schools or Christian schools or parochial schools or home schooled.”
On Rubio’s campaign website, he shares his education platform, which includes:
“A quality education is more important than ever, because the jobs of tomorrow will require more education and skills than ever. We need to allow charter schools and other innovative schools to flourish, and the key to that is empowering parents. Parents should be the ultimate decision makers on where their children go to school. Promoting school choice will provide opportunity to poorer communities, help special needs children, and raise quality across the system.”
Carson describes his education platform in a January 2016 article for the Washington Times:
“First, I will prioritize school choice. The United States cannot remain competitive in the world if we do not have an education system that meets the needs of American students from all walks of life. As president, I will actively support school choice programs, such as school vouchers and charter schools, so every student has the opportunity to fully realize his or her God-given potential.”
It should be no surprise that all the presidential candidates support charter schools. Every president since Bill Clinton, who supported charter schools from the moment the first school opened in 1992, has supported the growth of charter schools. With nearly three million students attending charter schools and another one million student names on charter school wait lists, charter schools are knocking it out of the park.
It would be more surprising if the candidates didn’t support charter schools.