Can Charter Schools Survive Polarization and Populism?
Charter schools have historically garnered support from across the political spectrum, but President Trump and Secretary of Education DeVos—by their very support—may be narrowing that broad base. Last year’s Education Next poll found a steep drop in charter support among Democrats. And the recent defeat of former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in California’s gubernatorial primary—despite massive campaign help from charter supporters—portends a rough road for reform-minded Democrats in this year’s election cycle.
As Democrats have soured on charters, Republicans have been noticeably silent. Only twenty of this year’s seventy-five GOP candidates for governor even mention charter schools on their websites, according to a recent analysis.
As the 2018 cycle heats up, what role will charter policy and prospects play? Will the issue unite Democrats against candidates who favor school choice? Will Republicans continue to neglect education or will they embrace the Trump K–12 agenda? On July 26th, we flogged a panel of experts to examine what America’s rising polarization and populism mean for charter schools.
Michael J. Petrilli
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
President & CEO
Democrats for Education Reform
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
California Charter Schools Association