On the far left, school choice is considered one of the biggest no-nos there is. I mean, unless you’re the one who’s doing the choosing.
A few months back, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got herself into a bit of trouble because she sent her kid to private school.
Perfectly reasonable, you say? I’d say, too. Unfortunately, the Democratic presidential candidate’s plan for national education was to all but paralyze school choice at the public funding level, instantly killing off for-profit charter schools and pausing funding for nonprofit charters, all to prostrate herself before the teachers unions.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has cheered those fighting to “protect local public schools from privatization,” and her fellow democratic socialists certainly disapprove of school choice.
That didn’t stop her from helping get her goddaughter into a charter school in the Bronx, the New York Post revealed.
This is based on a Facebook Live video obtained by the Post and published Feb. 22. In it, Ocasio-Cortez talks about how she helped her goddaughter get into a charter school.
“This area’s like a lot of where my family is from,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the 2017 video, made before her run for Congress.
“My goddaughter, I got her into a charter school like maybe a block or two down.”
The video was filmed as she walked along Hunts Point Avenue in the Bronx.
There aren’t many details in the video, for those of you trying to suss out how she pulled the favor or even which charter school her goddaughter ended up attending.
“There are at least five — including South Bronx Classical Charter School I and Bronx Charter School for the Arts — within walking distance of the Hunts Point subway station where the video cuts out,” the Post notes.
It’s not as if this really matters, however, when you consider the fact that the first-term Democrat congresswoman and self-described socialist hasn’t been particularly complimentary toward charter schools in the past.
During a 2019 town hall in which she criticized the New York City public school system, she still called public education “one of the greatest gems of public good in the United States” and lamented how Bronx students are being “incentivized to enroll into a charter school.”
“The moment we start feeling that way is when we should start fighting to improve them,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
That same year, she tweeted her support for Los Angeles teachers and others who she said were “on a historic strike to improve + protect local public schools from privatization.”
“This is inspiring!” the congresswoman declared.
Tens of thousands of LA public school teachers, parents, and students are on a historic strike to improve + protect local public schools from privatization.
This is inspiring!
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 18, 2019
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate she’s acting as a surrogate for — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — also isn’t fond of charter schools.
“Recognizing the problems in a one-size-fits-all model of education, teachers’ unions and parent activists established alternative, experimental ‘charter’ schools to better serve kids struggling within the traditional system,” Sanders’ campaign website states.
“But few charter schools have lived up to their promise. Instead, billionaires like DeVos and the Waltons, together with private equity and hedge fund executives, have bankrolled their expansion and poured tens of millions into school board and other local elections with the hope of privatizing public schools. Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system.
“Moreover, the proliferation of charter schools has disproportionately affected communities of color — 17 percent of charter schools are 99 percent minority, compared to 4 percent of traditional public schools. This has led the NAACP, the NEA, AFT and others to criticize the charter movement for intensifying racial segregation.”
Sanders also proposes a freeze on new funding for charter schools “until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state. That means halting the use of public funds to underwrite new charter schools.”
“We do not need two schools systems; we need to invest in our public schools system,” his website says.
You’ll also find no surprises in how the New York City Democratic Socialists, Ocasio-Cortez’s natural base, feel about charter schools.
“Charter schools act as tools for privatizing education and weakening the power of unionized teachers,” the group’s platform on schools reads, calling for “[ending] the creation of new charter schools, [banning] the expansion of existing charter schools, and transform[ing] existing charter schools into public schools.”
Some Cabinet-level officials enjoyed the hypocrisy:
How nice that @AOC claims to have helped her goddaughter get into a public charter school. It’s a shame she works to deny that opportunity to every other disadvantaged family in America. “Good for me, but not for thee,” indeed. #EducationFreedomhttps://t.co/a2RhOEeU0o
— Secretary Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) February 24, 2020
For all I know, Ocasio-Cortez has reevaluated her opinion on charter schools since 2017. It wouldn’t be the first time a socialist took advantage of free-market innovations and then railed against them. Also, re-evaluating old positions seems to be popular among politicians from New York City these days, and clearly this wouldn’t be a shift of Bloombergian proportions.
That said, Ray Domanico of the conservative Manhattan Institute may have put it best.
“I am not surprised by the hypocrisy,” the group’s director of education policy said.
“Charter schools are incredibly popular with the communities and populations that a lot of these Democratic politicians claim to be representing. … People in the Bronx can find a good school for their young ones now as the congresswoman apparently did for her goddaughter.”
Perhaps not for long, however, if AOC’s allies have their way.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.