Elizabeth Warren loves public schools so much that she wants to keep your kids in failing ones.
When it comes to her kid, perhaps not so much.
See, Warren isn’t a big fan of school choice. That’s why her education plan, released last week, calls for banning for-profit charter schools. Non-profit charter schools are also mostly verboten, as the plan calls for a pause on federal funding for the expansion of all charter schools.
The reasons she gave were predictable: Spending money on potentially innovative private options outside of the public school system deprives public schools of taxpayer money and private options are potentially corrupt. Also, racism!
“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.”
“Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies, and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at the expense of vulnerable students.”
“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 plan adds, just in case you didn’t get the message that she’s against school choice.
As The Washington Post pointed out, for-profit charter schools make up about 15 percent of all charter schools, which means an immediate loss of options for parents whose children are stuck in failing public schools. The Post called it a “union-pleasing plan;” just in case you didn’t get that message from looking at it, Warren spent the next day marching with Chicago teachers.
“The attack on charter schools is particularly disappointing given Ms. Warren’s past support for charters in her home state, which has some of the nation’s best charters,” The Post wrote in an editorial on Monday.
“She once touted the ‘extraordinary results’ of many Massachusetts charters and spoke of the need to ‘celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools.’ The federal program she wants to end helped start some charters in Boston that have shown good results in educating low-income and minority students.”
I suppose now she’s seen the light, a light which has nothing to do with union support. It may not surprise you to know that she believed in school choice when she had her own child, too. She believed in the only kind of school choice that will be available to a lot more parents if she gets her way: putting one’s child into private school with one’s own money.
According to The Daily Caller, for at least one year back in 1987, Warren sent her son to an elite private school outside of Austin, Texas — a school which now boasts a yearly tuition of $14,995.
A 1987 yearbook from Kirby Hall shows the Massachusetts’ senator’s son, Alexander Warren, then an 11-year-old fifth-grader, among the students at the tony private school.
The year would correspond with the last time that his mother taught at the nearby University of Texas at Austin.
My guess is this anecdote isn’t going to pop up on the campaign trail.
The yearbook photo was first reported by Corey A. DeAngelis, director of school choice at the Reason Foundation.
Here's information on the school.
Tuition is currently almost $18,000 per year. pic.twitter.com/TKAqtWiBS7
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) October 29, 2019
“I do not blame Alex one bit for attending a private school in 5th grade. Good for him,” DeAngelis tweeted.
“This is about Warren exercising school choice for her own kids while fighting hard to prevent other families from having that option.”
I do not blame Alex one bit for attending a private school in 5th grade. Good for him.
This is about Warren exercising school choice for her own kids while fighting hard to prevent other families from having that option.
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) October 29, 2019
But this is the kind of school choice that Elizabeth Warren can get behind — the kind that you get if you can afford it.
“The losers in these political calculations are the children whom charters help,” The Post’s editorial noted.
“Charters at their best offer options to parents whose children would have been consigned to failing traditional schools. They spur reform in public school systems in such places as the District [of Columbia] and Chicago. And high-quality charters lift the achievement of students of color, children from low-income families and English language learners.”
Again, this speaks to the insularity of Warren’s appeal to buttress public schools. For many of her supporters, even if they don’t send their children to private schools, they live in places where the public schools aren’t failing. They don’t have to make these sorts of choices.
I’m not going to pretend that Warren’s plan is anything short of electoral cupidity. Teachers’ unions are against charter schools, and she wants to be the candidate for public sector unions, ergo, she’s against charter schools.
At one point, she had a bit more sense.
At one point in her life, too, she decided to opt out for her own children, at least for one year. She had the money and she had the right to make that choice. For parents who don’t have the money, charter schools can be the only choice that they have. Warren wants to sacrifice that on the pyre of organized labor.
The children — the ones who don’t have parents who can pay like Alexander Warren did — will be the ones who end up suffering if she ever gets a chance to go through with this.
Author: C. Douglas Golden