The other day in “Civil War on the Left,” I noted how ethnic groups within the California Democratic Party are turning on one another. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on another internal fault line that is splitting Democrats in Illinois and New York, this time over charter schools, which teachers’ unions hates, but which are hugely popular with parents—especially minority parents. What’s a politically correct Democrat to do?
Hundreds of protesters filled the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday denouncing nearly a dozen bills that would curb the growth of charter schools—the latest scuffle over expansion of the independently run public schools, which are spreading nationwide.
The Illinois Legislature is considering 11 bills that would, among other things, limit where charter schools can be located, ban them from marketing themselves to students, and abolish a commission that has the power to overrule local school boards and grant charter licenses. The skirmish follows recent charter flare-ups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got into a standoff over the schools.
Teachers unions often oppose charters—funded by taxpayers but run by independent groups—because they typically hire nonunion workers and, labor leaders argue, drain money from struggling traditional public schools. Proponents say charter schools offer parents a choice and are free to adopt innovations such as instituting a longer school day and year, or laying off teachers based strictly on performance.
Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said this year’s legislative session is the “worst session for charter schools in the history of Illinois” and said passage of the bills could be the “death knell” for charter expansion. “These bills…weaken the communities that charter schools serve, which, in Illinois, are mainly African-American and Latino.”
There’s more at the link, but the chart below by the Journal shows why charter schools are becoming such a mortal threat to a core interest group (and money supplier) for Democrats. I wonder how long this war will stay civil?