Democrats, This Is Your Moment to Make Equity More Than a Slogan

By Richard Buery
Pete Buttigieg smiling with supporters

Where do Democratic candidates stand on public education? After last month’s Forum on Education, we know that the candidates are committed to increasing the federal investment in public education and ensuring that public education provides real opportunity for our most underserved students. The Forum was subtitled “Equity and Opportunity for All.” Surely, that is a vision we can all embrace.

According to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, public charter schools in urban areas provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to other public schools, with the most significant gains coming to Black, Latinx and special education students. And, public charter schools reach underserved students at a higher rate than traditional district schools, according to Education Week. Based on this data, achieving “Equity and Opportunity for All” should include investing in high-quality, urban, public charter schools.

Yet, the public charter school community was not invited to the Forum. One-hundred charter school parents took time off work, traveled hours by bus and stood in the rain, hoping for an opportunity to ask the presidential candidates about their commitment to equity and excellence. They were not allowed in. Most candidates dodged any discussion of public charter schools, and why they should not be a part of an “Equity and Opportunity” agenda.

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