Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year Makes Just $35,419 — and He Won’t Get a Big Raise Anytime Soon

CA High School Creates Gift for Blind Senior: A One-of-a-Kind Braille Yearbook She Can Read

Omaha’s $100 Million ‘75 North’ Experiment: Improve a School By Building More Affordable Housing Nearby

The Cult of Finland: What American Schools CAN’T Learn From International Comparisons

Can a Robot Help Teach Classics of Literature? Sphero’s Ed Uses Range From STEM to STEAM

Betsy Devos, Trump’s EdSec Pick, Promoted Virtual Schools Despite Dismal Results

Is This the Craziest Bet a Principal Has Ever Made to Reward Students for Good Test Scores?

Jeb Bush Calls for ‘Earthquake’ in Federal Education Funding and Policy Under GOP Control

51 Votes: How Trump and Senate Republicans Can Bypass Democrats on School-Choice Initiatives

Fake News Isn’t Just an Internet Problem, It’s a Classroom Crisis. A New Push for Media Literacy

Statement: On Education Secretary Nominee (and 74 Supporter) Betsy DeVos

Q&A: Betsy DeVos on Education, Opportunity and the Shifting Politics Surrounding School Choice

DACA Supporters Fear What Attorney General Jeff Sessions Would Mean for Immigrant Youth

The New White Flight: Research Shows Some North Carolina Charters Are Making Segregation Worse

Vouchers, Union Dues, Transgender Students: How the High Court May Rule Under Trump

Analysis: How Betsy DeVos Could Scramble the Ideology and Politics of Education Reform

Analysis: Did Senate ‘Nuclear Option’ Help DeVos Rise Over Rhee for Education Secretary Nod?

Indiana Flashback: New to Team Trump, Education Secretary Pick DeVos Has Long Been on Team Pence

Common Core, Trumped: Ed Secretary Hopeful DeVos Aligns With Pence in Pushing Local Standards

Trump Picks His Education Secretary: The First 6 Things to Know About Betsy DeVos

Yet More Confusing Charter School Talk from Bernie Sanders: What Is a 'Private Charter' Anyway?

March 14, 2016

Talking Points

.@BernieSanders says he backs “public” but not “privately controlled” charter schools #EDlection2016

.@BernieSanders doesn’t back vouchers, says public schools are being de-funded #EDlection2016

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he supports public charter schools, though his answer seemed to confuse the issue.
“I believe in public education, and I believe in public charter schools. I do not believe in privately controlled charter schools,” he said at a CNN Town Hall in Ohio.
Sanders’ answer on charters is unclear because most charters are privately run but publicly funded and open to all students. He didn’t clarify his position, but there are distinctions to be made among what type of entity authorizes and oversees charters (local school boards, independent charter authorization boards, etc.) and between the status of charter operators (nonprofit vs. for-profit.)
The muddled answer came in response to a question from KIPP Columbus administrator Caitlynn Dunn, who cited a recent Columbus Dispatch article that said six of the state’s top 10 schools are in Columbus and of those, two (one-third) are charters. She asked if Sanders supported charters as a viable way to improve education outcomes for kids of color.
The comments are similar to ones he made to Martin and other journalists earlier this month ahead of the Super Tuesday contests, when he also said he does not support privately controlled charters. (The 74: #WhichBernie Supports School Choice? Inside Sanders’ Super Tuesday Pivot on Charter Schools)
Sanders said he supports school innovation and after a long pause, some moments of  confusion and prompting from moderator Roland Martin, cited magnet schools, which are public schools that offer specialized curriculum meant to draw students across neighborhood lines.
Vermont does not have charter schools. Sanders said he supports the school innovations underway in his home town of Burlington. Several years ago, city officials turned two of the worst-performing schools with the neediest students into magnet campuses, and they began thriving, The Atlantic reported in 2013.
“I support experimentation, but I do not want to see money leave the public schools,” Sanders said.
Martin also asked Sanders about school vouchers, noting that public funds go to private colleges through grants and government-backed loans so why not to exercise school choice in K-12. Sanders was clear that he opposes using public funds to send children to private schools.  
“The difference is that right now public schools all over this country are being de-funded, and money is leaving the public school system,” Sanders said. He said neighborhood schools, where students from all economic backgrounds come together, “is one of the reasons that we created the kind of great nation that we have.”
Public schools in many places are not socioeconomic melting pots, however. For the first time, most public school students in America are racial minorities and more than half are low income. Those students are much more likely to be in highly segregated schools.
Discussion of K-12 education in this election cycle has been, charitably, limited and surface-level. Republicans have muddied the waters themselves with statements about the Common Core and the federal government that begged for a fact check. Sanders and, more visibly, his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, have been dinged for their stances on charter schools.
Clinton at a Town Hall event in November hosted by Martin said she had long supported charters, but that charters often don’t take the hardest to teach kids or, if they do, don’t keep those students enrolled.
The reaction from the education reform world was swift, and Clinton’s campaign rushed to clarify that yes, she does support charters and has for many years.
Clinton was not asked about charters or K-12 education at the Ohio Town Hall, but did say the country needs to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a cradle-to-college system.