WaPo Editorial Board Blasts Warren for Caving to Unions on Charter Schools

'The losers in these political calculations are the children whom charters help' (Updated)

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October 29, 2019

The Washington Post editorial board blasted 2020 hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) Monday for her opposition to charter schools, accusing her of folding to teachers' unions and saying that children come out "losers" in her plan.

"She has laid out a series of detailed policies that challenge what she sees as powerful interests standing in the way of better lives for Americans," the board wrote. "But when it comes to education, Ms. Warren has a plan that seems aimed more at winning the support of the powerful teachers unions than in advancing policies that would help improve student learning."

"The losers in these political calculations are the children whom charters help," it added.

Warren once praised charter schools, applauding the "extraordinary results" of many Massachusetts charter schools in 2016. She made that statement as she expressed support for capping the number of them in the state.

She's become even more stridently opposed to them now, calling for the banning of for-profit charter schools and imposing rigorous regulations to make it more difficult for new charters to open. After writing in 2004 that education vouchers help "relieve parents" from relying on poor public schools, she is now against them.

The editorial board wrote that Warren's stance on school choice was "no mystery." Warren has raked in more than $2.5 million from the education industry during her career, including nearly $70,000 from teachers' unions.

These same unions have staunchly opposed charter schools, attacking them for hiring non-union teachers and diverting funding from public schools. Critics have said the unions fear that charter schools' success threatens their monopoly over the education system.

The Post noted that charters offer options to parents who would otherwise be forced to send their children to failing traditional schools. Among the beneficiaries are minority and low-income students.

"High-quality charters lift the achievement of students of color, children from low-income families and English language learners," the board wrote. "Research from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes found, for example, that African American students in charter schools gained an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days in reading per year compared with their traditional school counterparts."

The board concluded Warren's plan serves "adult interests" rather than "student needs."

The Washington Free Beacon reported in May on a study showing the successful expansion of charter schools in Boston, serving tens of thousands of students and demonstrating consistently higher test scores and four-year college enrollments than their counterparts.

2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supported charter schools for decades before suddenly ripping them in 2015 as being unwilling to take or keep harder-to-teach children. Clinton also enjoyed the support of powerful teachers' unions during her presidential run.

The Denver Post editorial board, noting Clinton's about-face, said she had "backpedaled into the arms of activists in the Democratic base."

UPDATE: 1:36 P.M.: This article was updated to show Warren opposed increasing the number of charter schools in 2016. She first turned against them then, not in 2019.