A Democratic Guide to Public Charter Schools

By Charles Barone and Marianne Lombardo

From their origins in the 1980’s all the way up until present day, public charter schools have enjoyed support from elected officials, thought leaders, and constituencies across the political spectrum. Recently, however, we’ve seen a split emerge on charter schools among individuals and organizations on the left.

This issue brief, A Democratic Guide to Public Charter Schools, offers a reminder that throughout their history, public charter schools have had strong roots in progressivism and the current public charter school sector, on the whole, reflects Democratic values of equalizing opportunity and empowering local communities.

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In this issue brief, we show that: 

  • PART 1: Civil rights and labor leaders advanced the ideas and principles underlying the charter school model;
  • PART 2: Democratic and progressive leaders have been, and remain, among the strongest proponents of high-quality public charter schools;
  • PART 3: A solid majority of Democrats supports public charter schools; support is particularly high among Black, Hispanic, and low-income voters and parents;
  • PART 4: Charter enrollment is highest in Democratic strongholds;
  • PART 5: Public charter schools serve the Democratic goals of equalizing educational opportunities.

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