Hey, Rudy: Charter School Advocates are Not “Giddy” at Trump’s Victory

“Charter school advocates are giddy. Trump will clearly be much more supportive of charter schools than Hillary Clinton.”

That’s Carl Campanile in today’s NY Post, making the erroneous presumption that school choice supporters are rejoicing at Trump’s [electoral college] victory over Clinton. Campanile infers this conceit about school choice proponents’ sentiments from an interview with once-upon-a-time NYC hero Rudy Giuliani, currently vice-chair of Trump’s transition team, who told him, “President-elect Trump is going to be the best thing that ever happened for school choice and the charter school movement. We’ve spoken about it.. Donald is going to create incentives for that promote and open more charter schools. It’s a priority,”

As someone who works closely with people who support charter schools as one tool for promoting educational equity, let me assure you that both Campanile and Giuliani are wrong.

We are not giddy. We are exasperated by Trump’s kneejerk denigration of federal oversight and accountability, key elements in  improving school quality. We are gobsmacked by some of the names tossed around for Education Secretary. (Ben Carson? Really?) My colleagues of color — all of us, really — are infuriated by Trump supporters’ tolerance for racist hate-mongering. And, as a Jew, I view Trump’s choice of a notorious anti-Semite as his Senior Counselor with despair.

Let’s get real.  Federal contributions to school funding are de minimis: in NYC, for example, federal funding (as Campanile concedes) amounts to a mere 10% of school budgets, much of it non-fungible, and, anyway, hardly enough to sway anti-choice state leaders.  More importantly, Trump’s determination to gut the Department of Education’s ability to oversee state intervention in chronically low-performing schools could potentially strangle charter school growth.

Sandy Kress notes today in his depressing assessment of the prospects for school improvement during a Trump Administration that teacher union leaders, stalwart opponents of reform, “got clobbered.” But so did the voices of low-income Boston parents who tried to raise the charter schoool cap in Boston.

Charter school advocates like me were blind-sided by Trump’s victory, as was much of America. But after a week of mourning we are ready to head once more into the breach and continue to fight for the core principles that have always united us:  pushing for policies that benefit kids and families, especially those of limited financial means, and ensuring that the federal government plays a key role in keeping states honest. There’s nothing in Trump’s rhetoric that reassures us that he shares those values.

“Giddy” we are not.

What do you think?

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