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Sanders to Propose Moratorium on Public Funding Of Charter Schools

Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in the She the People Presidential Forum in Houston, Texas, April 24, 2019. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) will call for a ban on for-profit charter schools and a temporary moratorium on funding for public-charter-school expansion in a campaign speech to be delivered Saturday, CNN first reported.

In his Saturday speech in South Carolina, Sanders plans to endorse the NAACP’s claim that charter-school expansion has had an adverse effect on African Americans who suffer from the resulting lack of funding for public schools. In order to combat this alleged harm, Sanders will call on the government to cut off public funding for all charter schools until an extensive audit has been conducted.

While other 2020 Democratic contenders have expressed skepticism about the role of charter schools in improving America’s educational standing, Sanders is the first aspirant to explicitly call on Washington to cut off their funding.

Sanders’s plan would also limit charter schools’ ability to develop innovative curricula by mandating that they comply with many of the same oversight measures applied to traditional public schools.

Opponents of the plan argue that it would harm the very people it intends to help, namely low-income African Americans and other minorities who continue to struggle with high attrition rates and disproportionately low standardized-test scores.

Amy Wilkins, senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, emphasized the pro-charter school stance adopted by three NAACP chapters in California that oppose the national organization’s position.

“Sanders’s call is out of touch — as usual — with what African Americans want,” Wilkins said in a statement to CNN. “More disturbing, the senator — for personal political gain — would literally lock African-American students into schools that have failed them for generations.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has prioritized school-choice advocacy during her tenure, proposing, among other things, a $5 billion federal tax credit that would fund scholarships and education programs for private schools.

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