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INGRID JACQUES

Editor’s Note: Clinton shuns charter schools

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Hillary Clinton doesn’t like charter schools anymore. While this won’t come as a surprise to many school choice advocates, it’s a telling move on the part of the Democratic presidential frontrunner.

“Most charter schools, I don't want to say everyone, but most charter schools, they don't take the hardest-to-teach kids,” Clinton said recently on the campaign trail. “And if they do, they don't keep them.”

She went on to praise the good work traditional public schools do, and noted the financial problems they face because charter schools exist. (Darn those parents who want to choose a better school for their child).

Yet Clinton’s facts are wrong. For instance, in Michigan, 70 percent of students in charters come from low-income homes, and here, as in most places, enrollment is by lottery, so schools can’t cherry pick. And charters are largely in urban areas. Kids from poor, urban areas are generally the “hardest to teach.”

Clinton, who used to support the concept of charters — as did her husband Bill Clinton when he was president, is desperate for the powerful support of public school teachers. Although she has earned the stamp of approval from the presidents of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, some local unions around the country aren’t sold on her.

The fact Clinton is taking her cues from the union playbook means, if elected, her Education Department would lean away from the reforms that the Obama administration strove to implement. And it definitely wouldn’t do anything to promote school choice.