Stuck in a tough spot to defend charter schools, while maintaining the support of teachers unions opposing them, Joe Biden has potentially given President Donald Trump a workable campaign issue for American families, particularly Black and Hispanic voters.
Trump has called charter schools "the ladder of opportunity for Black and Hispanic children," but teachers unions do not like the competition for public schools in receiving government funding.
Teachers unions endorse Democrats and Biden, potentially making it difficult for him to support charter schools, and Trump is taking advantage, according to Politico.
Even long Democrat-siding voters are stuck potentially looking at Trump as the defender of education choice students in depressed communities.
"I could never believe a Donald Trump on the television, trying to exploit the desperation of Black families who need a better option for their kids because the public schools in their neighborhoods are broken, but it also moves me to deep concern that Joe Biden would hand him that narrative, by being silent on the issue," Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools co-chair Margaret Fortune told Politico.
Charter schools have the backing of 54% of Republicans and just 37% of Democrats, according Harvard's Education Next poll, per Politico.
Senate progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernies Sanders, I-Vt., have pledged to halt federal funds for the expansion of charter schools.
"As president, Biden will ban for-profit charter schools from receiving federal funds," Biden spokesperson Matt Hill told Politico in a statement. "He will also make sure that we stop funding charter schools that don't provide results. In addition, he will ensure that charter schools are held to the same levels of accountability and transparency as traditional public schools."
The Education Department reported, during the 2016-17 school year, 60% of students in schools that received federal Charter Schools Program funding were low income and 64% were Black or Hispanic, Politico reported.
The Trump campaign is "clearly trying to peel away some African American and Latino voters, most likely men, which is where they did better last time to begin with," according to the conservative Fordham Institute's Michael Petrilli, who considers himself a "never-Trump conservative."
"If they can even get that up just a few percentage points in some of these close states, that of course can make a difference," Petrilli, a self-described “never-Trump conservative," told Politico.
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