A January survey found a majority of Democratic voters are in favor of school choice and would not support a 2020 presidential candidate who wants to defund charter schools.
The sixth annual National School Choice Poll, commissioned by the American Federation for Children — a pro-school choice advocacy organization — found that 58 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote for candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont who have voiced a desire to eliminate federal charter school funding.
That figure includes 56 percent of Democratic primary voters, 62 percent of African-American respondents and 65 percent of Latino respondents.
Both Warren and Sanders have voiced their opposition to publicly funded charter schools, setting themselves apart from the rest of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Warren’s education plan outlines her effort to “provide great neighborhood schools” by defunding charter schools.
“To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools,” Warren’s plan reads.
“Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school districts and leave students behind, primarily students of color.”
The Massachusetts Democrat’s plan continues, “We should stop the diversion of public dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits — which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools.”
The American Federation for Children’s survey concluded that this stance would not help Warren’s 2020 run because only “11% of Democratic primary voters report that they would be much more likely to support a candidate who would eliminate all federal funding for public charters.”
Sanders released a similar plan that said the growth of charter schools “has drained funding from the public school system” and the damage to communities caused by this growth should be “stopped and reversed.”
In order to do this, the Vermont democratic socialist also proposed stopping the use of federal funds for new charter schools.
“High quality charter schools offer families options and opportunities,” the National Alliance’s senior vice president of advocacy, Amy Wilkins, said.
“The public options are particularly important to communities, which have — for generations — been failed by district-operated public schools.”
The National School Choice Poll revealed similar findings, with 69 percent of voters supporting the concept of school choice or “the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs.”
The survey concluded that because of the growth of support for school choice, 2020 candidates should be embracing the education proposals instead of trying to get rid of these schooling options.
The National School Choice Poll was conducted from Jan. 7-13 and surveyed 1,275 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
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