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Mike Bloomberg separates himself from other Dem candidates on school choice, says he will promote charter school expansion


Well, that's different

Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made news over the weekend when his campaign announced that its soon-to-come education plan would promote charter school expansion.

"Mike's education plan will absolutely promote charter schools," Bloomberg campaign spokesman Stu Loeser told the New York Post regarding the education plan that is likely to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

"The record number of charter schools opened under Mayor Bloomberg is clear. That isn't changing," Loeser continued. "Few if any people in the country have opened more charter schools than Mike Bloomberg."

What's the background?

Bloomberg has indeed been consistent on the issue, despite his position being uncharacteristic for a member of the Democratic Party. Many Democrats argue that privately managed schools like charters undermine and corrupt the public education system.

School choice advocates, however, argue that charter schools grant parents the power to choose where their children are educated, and are helpful especially in low-income areas where good public schools are often in lack.

As NYC mayor, Bloomberg pushed for an increase in charter schools even when the charter movement was still in its infancy.

The Queens Chronicle reported in 2013 that 175 new charter schools were opened servicing over 70,000 students during Bloomberg's tenure as mayor. When Bloomberg took office, only 18 charter schools were in operation.

The charter schools were extremely popular with around 50,000 students reportedly on the waiting list for admittance.

Yet United Federation of Teachers President Mike Mulgrew insisted that Bloomberg's educational policies were "damaging and counterproductive," the Post reports.

Why does it matter?

"Mike Bloomberg was probably the premier champion of charter schools in the country," CEO of the charter school network Public Prep, Ian Rowe, told the Post.

"None of the other candidates seem to be listening to the low-income families who want great, tuition-free public schools for their children, including charter schools," he added.

Rowe is right — outside of Bloomberg and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — all of the other Democratic presidential candidates have rejected charter schools.

According to Hot Air, front-runners Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have taken strong stands against charters in their respective plans.

"Biden's education plan doesn't include a single mention of charter schools," the article states, adding that "Warren's plan goes much further, calling for an end to the 'privatization and corruption of our public education system.'"

It remains to be seen whether Bloomberg's outlier position on school choice will help or hamper his popularity among Democratic voters.

Bloomberg currently sits in fifth in national polling at 5.8 percent, according to RealClear Politics polling data.

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