Joe Biden and teachers’ union share same feelings on charter schools

In an unlisted YouTube video shared by Choice Media, Lily Eskelsen Garcia (former president of the national teachers’ union) tells Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that charter schools are “very misguided school reforms.” Shortly after she says, “You know how we feel about charter schools.” To which Biden quickly interjects, “Same way I feel.”

He continues by saying, “No privately-funded charter school will receive a penny of federal money. None.” Followed a little later by, “A lot of these charter schools are significantly underperforming—significantly.”

Charter schools are independently-operated public schools and receive public funding similar to traditional schools, but often at a percentage of their district counterparts (61 percent is the average nationwide). As with traditional public schools, funding for charter schools varies significantly across states and districts. Because public revenues often fall short, charter schools can get private funding from individual donors, board members, foundation grants, and private loans.

The federal funding charter schools are eligible for is specific, such as Title I and Special Education monies. According to the Charter Asset Management, Title I “allows charter schools to get funding assistance for schools with a high number or percentage of (often academically challenged) pupils from low-income families. These funds are used to ensure that all students are able to meet the academic standards of each state.”

Many charter schools are intentionally opened in underserved communities with high concentrations of low-income, minority, and low-performing students to give these students access to an alternative learning environment outside of the neighborhood public school that failed them. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter schools across the nation enroll a high percentage of low-income students, Black and Latino students, and students who perform lower on standardized assessments before transferring to charter schools.

Research shows that charter schools help boost results for the disadvantaged students who attend them and even benefit the students who remain in the neighborhood schools. Among Democratic voters, 58 percent of Blacks and 52 percent of Hispanics approve of charter schools, compared with 26 percent of whites, according to Max Eden with the Manhattan Institute. “Whatever has led white Democrats to abandon their support for charter schools, their conclusions are not shared by researchers or parents of color.”