Bill Clinton's Charter School Pandering

- March 31, 2016

Today, Bill Clinton Will Hold A Campaign Event With The United Federation Of Teachers (UFT) In New York City. "Bill Clinton will address union workers at the SEIU Local, which represents more than 70,000 building maintenance workers in New York City and Long Island; the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, which represents about 100,000 construction workers, and the AFSCME local, which represents some 121,000 New York City municipal workers. He also will appear before the United Federation of Teachers, the union representing more than 94,000 New York City public school teachers and support staff." (Laura Figueroa, "Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton To Campaign In NYC Thursday," [New York] Newsday, 3/31/16)


UFT, Like Other National Teachers Unions, Opposes The Charter School Movement. "Unfortunately, some leaders in the corporate education reform movement have hijacked much of the charter school industry both to profit from and undermine public education. They use charter schools to compete against − rather than collaborate with − district public schools. Charter schools are not held to the same standards of fairness, student access, accountability and financial transparency as public schools, which hurts students in both charter and public schools and does a disservice to the taxpaying public." ("Charter Schools," United Federation Of Teachers, Accessed 3/30/16)

In January, UFT "Launched A New Attack" On Charters In New York, Describing It As "One Of The Union's 'Main Legislative Priorities.'" "The city's teachers union launched a new attack Monday on charter schools, saying it will push the state Legislature to force charters to accept the same percentage of 'high need' students as regular public schools. United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew described the proposed legislation as one of the union's 'main legislative priorities' in Albany." (Carl Campanile, "Teachers Union Launches Attack On Charters Over Special-Needs Students," New York Post, 1/25/16)

Teachers Unions Have Worked Against Charter Schools For Years, As They Worry About Losing Their Clout And Dues To Non-Union Schools. "Unions say they aren't anti-charter but often attack the schools, a majority of which employ teachers who aren't unionized, accusing them of siphoning off money from traditional public schools." (Kimberly Hefling, "Hillary Clinton Rebukes Charter Schools," Politico, 11/9/15)

Between 2010 And 2013, Teachers Unions Pumped $2.5 Million Into Groups That Attacked Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) For Supporting Charter Schools. "Teachers unions funneled $2.5 million into what Gov. Cuomo called 'front groups' to do their dirty work attacking him for supporting charter schools and opposing tax hikes. The rebranded ACORN - New York Communities for Change - received a total of $1.3 million from the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers from 2010 to 2013. The unions also pumped $1.2 million into a group called Alliance for Quality Education. Both issued statements accusing the governor of 'pay-to-play politics' for backing charter schools because of campaign contributions he received from charter-supporting 'Wall Street billionaires.'" (Carl Campanile, "Teachers Unions Gave $2.5M To Groups Attacking Cuomo," New York Post, 3/24/14)

However, Bill Clinton Considers Himself The "Father" Of Charter Schools

In A 2015 E-mail Exchange, Clinton's Former Economic Adviser Gene Sperling Said That Clinton Considers Himself The "Father" Of Charter Schools. "It turns out her husband, former President Bill Clinton, considers himself the 'father' of charter schools, according to a February 2015 email between Gene Sperling, a veteran of both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Victoria Suarez-Palomo, Education Secretary Arne Duncan's special advisor on strategy and planning. 'WJC may be more interested in narrowly helping best charter schools which he considers himself the father of -- as opposed to ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) generally -- but will try to find out,' Sperling wrote." (Anita Kumar, "Clinton Distances Herself From Charter Schools, One Of Her Husband's Legacies," McClatchy , 11/13/15)

In 2014, Clinton Told The Huffington Post That He "Had Been A Backer Of Charter Schools When Their Use First Expanded In The 1990s." "After his speech, Clinton told The Huffington Post that he had been a backer of charter schools when their use first expanded in the 1990s. He said the deal was that in exchange for being 'unfettered,' they were supposed to do a better job of educating students -- or they would be closed." (Joy Resmovits, "Bill Clinton: Charter Schools Must Be Held To 'The Original Bargain,'" The Huffington Post, 9/24/14)

As President, Bill Clinton Praised Charter Schools And Pushed For More To Open

President Clinton Was Big Supporter Of Charter Schools; Only One Existed When He Took Office And His Administration Aimed To Open 3,000 During His Presidency. "Just one charter school existed nationally when Clinton took office in 1993, he said. Now there are more than 1,700, and the administration hopes to help foster 3,000 by 2001, Clinton said. 'Charter schools offer parents and students more choice in the kinds of public education available to them, coupled with public accountability,' Education Secretary Richard Riley said." ("Clinton Says GOP Tax Cut Threatens Public Education," Los Angeles Times, 8/29/99)

In A 1999 Radio Address, President Clinton Endorsed Charter Schools, Saying They Were "Innovative," "Freer Of Red Tape And Top-Down Management," And Promoted "Excellence And Competition." CLINTON: "Charter schools are innovative public schools started by educators, parents, and communities, open to students of every background or ability. But they're freer of redtape and top-down management than most of our schools are, and in return for greater flexibility, charter schools must set and meet the highest standards, and stay open only as long as they do. Also, charter schools don't divert taxpayer dollars from our public school system; instead, they use those dollars to promote excellence and competition within the system. And in so doing, they spur all our public schools to improve." (President Bill Clinton, The Weekly Address Of The President Of The United States, Washington, DC, 8/28/99)

  • Clinton Said Charter Schools Were "The Right Choice" For "An Increasing Number Of Families." CLINTON: "For an increasing number of families, charter schools are the right choice. In fact, there are now waiting lists at 7 out of 10 existing charter schools, as more parents realize that more innovation and creativity can produce good results for their children." (President Bill Clinton, The Weekly Address Of The President Of The United States, Washington, DC, 8/28/99)
  • Clinton Said Investing In Charter Schools Was "Investing In Accountability And Excellence And A Much Better Future For Our Children." CLINTON: "Charter schools are living proof of what parents and teachers can do to reinvigorate public education. Investing in them means investing in accountability and excellence and a much better future for our children." (President Bill Clinton, The Weekly Address Of The President Of The United States, Washington, DC, 8/28/99)

Bill Clinton Has Supported Charter Schools Through The Clinton Foundation

In January 2005, Bill Clinton Opened The Children's Zone Headquarters In Harlem That Houses A Charter School. "Calling it a 'powerful beacon of light shedding rays of hope' throughout Harlem, former President Bill Clinton today helped open the Harlem Children's Zone headquarters, a $41 million building that will house administrative offices, a charter school, a community center and a medical and dental clinic." (Press Release, "Former President Bill Clinton Helps Open Harlem Children's Zone Headquarters," The Clinton Foundation , 1/19/05)

  • Bill Clinton Also Announced A Partnership Between The Clinton Foundation And The Teacher's College At Columbia University, In Which Graduate Students Would Work With The Charter School Operated By The Harlem Children's Zone. "Former President Clinton also announced the beginning of a new collaborative effort between the Clinton Foundation, Teacher's College at Columbia University and the HCZ. This effort, the details of which will be announced at a later date, will involve Teacher's College graduate students working with the charter school and after school programs operated by the Harlem Children's Zone." (Press Release, "Former President Bill Clinton Helps Open Harlem Children's Zone Headquarters," The Clinton Foundation , 1/19/05)

In September 2006, The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund Announced A Grant For The New Schools In New Orleans "To Ensure That Charter Schools Are Able To Adequately Serve The Affected Communities." "Presidents George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton today announced new Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund (BCKF) grants to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. … New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO): Using BCKF funding, NSNO will work primarily to ensure that charter schools are able to adequately serve the affected communities. NSNO will focus on personnel development and educational assessments of school performance and will develop a school investment fund. NSNO will also work as a resource for public schools in the area." (Press Release, "New Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund Grants Highlight Recovery Effort," The Clinton Foundation , 9/15/06)


U.S. News & World Report's Rachel Campos-Duffy: "As A Presidential Candidate, Clinton Has Flipped To A Steadfast Opponent Of School Choice." "But as a presidential candidate, Clinton has flipped to a steadfast opponent of school choice, making no exception in the instance of failing traditional public schools. As she put it last year, 'I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system - not outside of it.'" (Rachel Campos-Duffy, Op-Ed, "Building Up Barriers," U.S. News & World Report , 3/16/16)

In November 2015, Clinton Stated That "Most Charter Schools…Don't Take The Hardest-To-Teach Kids," Echoing A Line Used By Charter School Opponents. CLINTON: "And here's a couple of problems. Most charter schools - I don't want to say every one - but most charter schools, they don't take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don't keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don't get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child's education." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks At The Legislative Black Caucus Town Hall , Orangeburg, SC, 11/7/15)

  • Politico Headline: "Hillary Clinton Rebukes Charter Schools" (Kimberly Hefling, "Hillary Clinton Rebukes Charter Schools," Politico, 11/9/15)

In A July 2015 American Federation Of Teachers (AFT) Candidate Questionnaire, Clinton Said Charter Schools Have Moved Away From Their "Original Purpose." CLINTON: "Charters should be held to the same standards, and to the same level of accountability and transparency to which traditional public schools are held. This includes the requirements of civil rights laws. They can innovate and help improve educational practices. But I also believe that we must go back to the original purpose of charter schools. Where charters are succeeding, we should be doing more to ensure that their innovations can be widely disseminated throughout our traditional public school system. Where they are failing, they should be closed." ("Candidate Questionnaire: Hillary Rodham Clinton," American Federation Of Teachers, 7/17/15)

Clinton's Recent Shift On Charter Schools "Mirrors Other Moves Clinton Has Made To Nail Down The Support Of Liberal Blocs In The Face Of The Progressive Challenge Of Bernie Sanders." "The change in tone on charter schools mirrors other moves Clinton has made to nail down the support of liberal blocs in the face of the progressive challenge of Bernie Sanders, including her recent decision to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership." (Kimberly Hefling, "Hillary Clinton Rebukes Charter Schools," Politico, 11/9/15)

Clinton's Anti-Charter Stance Reflects That She Is Facing Pressure From Both Teachers Unions And Wealthy, Liberal Donors Who Support School Choice. "Already, she is being pulled in opposite directions on education. The pressure is from not only the teachers who supported her once and are widely expected to back her again, but also from a group of wealthy and influential Democratic financiers who staunchly support many of the same policies - charter schools and changes to teacher tenure and testing - that the teachers' unions have resisted throughout President Obama's two terms in office." (Maggie Haberman, "Hillary Clinton Caught Between Dueling Forces On Education: Teachers And Wealthy Donors," The New York Times , 3/24/15)

Clinton Had Been A Supporter Of Charter Schools Since The 1990s. "Every since the 1990s, Clinton has expressed support for charter schools, but in Saturday's remarks, she said something that is likely to irritate her supporters within the Democratic Party who are avid backers of charter schools as a principal means of reforming public education: that most charters don't accept those students who are the most difficult to educate, or, if they do, they 'don't keep them.'" (Valerie Strauss, "Hillary Clinton: 'Most Charter Schools 'Don't Take The Hardest-To-Teach Kids, Or, If They Do, They Don't Keep Them,'" The Washington Post , 11/8/15)

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