While many of us are tired of well-worn campaign tropes such as “the kids are our future,” education issues aren’t getting much traction at all in the primary campaigns. We’re ready to hear where the candidates stand even if it means living with a few more clichés.
Despite polling numbers that show widespread support, charter schools have appeared even less on the campaign trail—we’ve seen a supportive talking point or two from some candidates at The Seventy Four forums in August, some backtracking and corrections from the Clinton camp in November, and a fundamental misunderstanding of what charter schools are from Sanders in January. Slim pickings.
Charter schools are public schools invested in providing a high-quality education for our kids. Whether the presidential candidates talk about it or not, quality charter schools share bipartisan support and are here to stay. In fact, policy debates about how to improve charter schools are front and center in eight of the 12 states (and one territory) holding primary elections on Super Tuesday:
- In Alabama, the newest state to allow charter schools last year, school districts are choosing to sign up as charter school authorizers with the goal of opening the state’s first charter schools in 2017.
- In Colorado, the legislature is trying to make sure charter schools are fairly funded.
- In Georgia, Governor Deal’s Education Task Force issued a set of recommendations that include several charter accountability measures.
- Governor Baker in Massachusetts is getting regular national media coverage advocating for a raise of the state’s charter cap, with more charter schools approved to open this week to meet demand.
- Last year Oklahoma saw a complete overhaul of its charter school law with a broad coalition of support, including from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
- Tennessee is taking a hard look at the successes and challenges of its part-charter Achievement School District.
- In Texas, the elected Supreme Court will issue a highly anticipated ruling on the state funding formula and equitable resources for charter schools.
- After heavy debate, the Virginia Senate only narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment to loosen the stranglehold school districts have on charter school growth in the state.
And it’s not just the states emphasizing this issue. In comments this week, Acting Secretary King underscored how important it is to get charter schools—and authorizing—right.
The next president will be responsible for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including significant changes to the federal charter school grant program—a competitive program that left a positive mark on thousands of charter schools in 34 states under NCLB.
The candidates know that poll after poll emphatically demonstrates parent support for choice in public education. We want to hear how the next president will help open more great charter schools. We want to hear the next president support what the nation’s parents have demanded: charter schools providing a high-quality public education.