CNN Town Hall Fact Check: Correcting Senator Sanders on Charter Schools
Monday, February 10, 2020
"Senator Sanders' appearance on CNN last night spread falsehoods about charter schools. It's clear that he doesn't know his stuff, but in this case, his lazy talking points are dangerous. Perhaps Mr. Sanders does not realize that low-income students and students of color in charter schools learn more than students in comparable district schools. Senator Sanders' wildly inaccurate statements put thousands of low-income students and students of color at risk for losing any opportunity to attend a high-quality public school. There is no such thing as a 'private charter school'. Next time Senator Sanders decides to speak on education we recommend he gets his fact straight." — Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Last Night’s CNN Town Hall with Senator Sanders:
Sanders: “I think public money should go to public schools and we should freeze all private charter schools.”
Fact Check: Charter schools are all public schools. The students they serve are public school students. The teachers who teach in them are public school teachers. Private charter schools do not exist.
Sanders: “[Charter schools] are taking money away from public education.”
Fact Check: Money for public education does not belong to schools. Public school funding should support students and schools dedicated to student outcomes, not a delivery system. In 45 states, legislatures created charter schools as a different form of public school.
Sanders: “[Charter schools] can pick and choose the students that they get”
Fact Check: By law, students are admitted to charter schools through randomized lotteries – there is no ‘picking and choosing’.
Sanders: “[In charter schools] the teachers are not able to become union members”
Fact Check: Charter school teachers are able to unionize in every state, though the vast majority of charter school staffs choose not to.
Sanders: “[Charter schools] don’t have the accountability that public schools do.”
Fact Check: Charter schools are not held accountable by school boards which are elected by a very small and overwhelmingly white percentage of the population. (FYI- more than 2/3 of charter school students are non-white.) Instead, they are held accountable by the government agency that gives them their charter. As a feature, charter schools will close if they aren’t meeting their agreed upon standards, which include academic standards. Charter schools are also held accountable by parents – because if parents in the community choose not to send their children to a charter school it will close.