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Tressa Pankovits
March 5, 2020 | News + Policy

Biden Surges, Sanders Wins California, Warren Drops Out

What does the reshaped Democratic primary mean for Charter School Investors?

It’s official – the Democratic presidential Primary is a two-candidate race. The next debate will be different than all of those in the past, as the two candidates will actually have a chance to dig in on the issues. One that is a big bone of contention in the party−and that has received very little attention thus far−is school choice.

Bernie Sanders sides with the teachers unions in being extremely opposed to charter schools and their growth. He has called for a nationwide moratorium on new charter schools and a ban on “public funding” for charter schools. It’s uncertain whether public funding means just facilities grants or would include Title I funds as well. Either way, he would have to get Congress to agree.

Joe Biden, as a member of the Obama administration, has a fairly good record on charter schools−but he has said nothing favorable about them during this campaign.

Both candidates want−need−the endorsements and campaign contributions from the teachers unions, which detest public charter schools. As charters grow, union membership shrinks.

Unions are a big part of Sanders’ base. It’s a bit trickier for Biden, who enjoys union support, but includes in his African American base the families of the nation’s 3.2 million charter school students, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of families on charter school waiting lists. Black voters’ loyalty to the Democratic party resurrected Biden’s dying campaign this week. It remains to be seen whether he will take a firmer pro-charter school stance between now and November. But charter schools are certain to be a topic that can no longer be ignored in this contest, and investors should keep tabs on where that conversation goes.

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