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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Biden picks teachers’ unions over students

The Biden administration has abandoned the Obama legacy on charter schools and chosen teachers’ unions over students, writes Jonathan Chait in New York magazine.

Once again, all graduates of Urban Prep, an all-male charter school in Chicago, have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities.

“Over the last decade, evidence has grown increasingly strong that public charter schools create better educational outcomes, especially for low-income, minority students in cities,” writes Chait.

Yet new guidelines for federal charter funding will block the creation of new schools. Among other things, districts will be able to block competition from charters. New school will have to prove there are no empty seats in existing schools, even if seats are empty because parents don’t want to send their children there.

President Biden seems to think charter schools threaten the quality of traditional public schools, writes Chait. That’s not true.

One recent study finds that adding charter schools increases performance for students in all schools across the district. Another study finds that adding charters leads to higher performance in math and science for Black and Latino students across the metropolitan area, as well as a narrowing of the racial-achievement gap.

Furthermore, when Chalkbeat asked the Education Department to discuss the charter-school regulations, a spokesperson instead told the reporter to speak “to supporters of the proposal, including Carol Burris, executive director for the Network for Public Education.”

The Network for Public Education is a militant anti-charter group that takes funding from teachers unions (a fact Chalkbeat’s neutral story did not mention.) Outsourcing your response to that group is essentially confessing that you are turning over charter-school funding regulation policy to the teachers unions.

The Democrats could “side with low-income families that want a chance at giving their children a decent education,” writes Chait. That might be a way to win back working class minorities.

Andrew Rotherham writes about the politics here and here. Siding with the unions is “bad for kids” and not good for Biden politically, he concludes.

He tweets about a new Alabama charter school designed for LGBTQ students and others who don’t fit in at traditional schools.

We’re facing an education crisis, and the Biden administration has prioritized making it even harder to create new schools, writes Matt Welch on Reason.

The guidelines have provoked a larger-than-usual amount of negative public comment, in addition to withering criticism by newspaper editorial boards (“a flagrantly wrongheaded policy,” concluded The Washington Post) and plausible charges that an administration noisily obsessed with racial “equity” is backing a policy that will hit poor minorities hardest.

“The move adds more evidence to a growing suspicion about Democratic and teachers union priorities over the past seven years, particularly during the policy debacle of COVID,” Welch concludes. “They are putting students last.”

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