Civil rights activists and teachers union leaders helped lay the intellectual foundations for charter schools. Since they were first created in the early 1990s, charters have gotten federal backing from both Democrats who held the White House. They’re now supported by strong majorities of key Democratic constituencies, including parents of color. With one notable exception (Miami), the cities with the largest numbers of charter school students are all led by Democratic mayors.
In short, there are deep strands of support for charter schools on the left side of the political aisle that belie recent stances taken by institutional Democratic parties at the state and national levels.
A new report by Education Reform Now (a sister organization of Democrats for Education Reform) documents the many ties between the charter school movement and progressive politics, from historical roots to present-day polling data.
It also makes a case that Democrats have a unique role to play in the charter school debate.