Bernie Sanders is the junior Senator from Vermont. He has been clear regarding his opposition to vouchers. In May of 2019 he unveiled “A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education,” the first comprehensive K-12 education policy statement from a presidential candidate.
Direct Campaign Contributions
Friends of Bernie Sanders did not receive contributions from prominent education reform donors.
This Super PAC spent $1,704,801.97 to oppose Sanders’ election. Paul Singer is a main contributor to the PAC. Singer is a billionaire hedge fund manager who makes large contributions to Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, and to pro-charter New York PACs.
As a congressman, Sanders voted for the Charter School Expansion Act.
In an AFT questionnaire Sanders said that charter schools “should be held to the same standards of transparency as public schools, and that these standards should also apply to the non-profit and for-profit entities that organize charter schools.”
At a CNN Ohio Democratic town hall, Sanders said “I believe in public education and I believe in public charter schools. I do not believe in privately controlled charter schools.”
That same year he publicly opposed Question 2 in Massachusetts which would have lifted the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. His statement said “this is Wall Street’s attempt to line their own pockets while draining resources away from public education at the expense of low-income, special education students and English language learners.”
Sanders unveiled “A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education” which includes a ban on for-profit charters, a “moratorium on the funding of all public charter school expansion” until a national audit has been completed, the halt of the “use of public funds to underwrite all new charter schools,” in addition to numerous other positions in line with those of NPE Action.
At the NEA Strong Public Schools 2020 Presidential Forum Sanders doubled down on his charter positions, stating:
“Taxpayer money should be going to educate our kids, not to make Wall Street investors even richer than they are,” he said. “And our proposal puts a moratorium on all new charter schools until we have a full understanding of their impact on public education.”
As a Congressman, Sanders voted against NCLB.
Senator Sanders met with opt-out activists to discuss “creating a model opt-out policy that would protect parents who prefer that their children not be tested.”
Senator Sanders campaign website said that he “was a vigorous opponent of the standardized testing regimen put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).”
The statement also said that standardized tests “narrowed school curriculum and constrained the development of critical thinking and creativity.”
In response to a letter from a group of activist teachers who challenged Sanders’ vote for an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act that contained “provisions which perpetuate quantitatively based measures,” Sanders clarified his positions on the use of standardized tests to hold schools accountable for student achievement.
Sanders put out a statement thanking Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not endorsing him.
Sanders endorsed pro-public education candidates Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla for the Los Angeles School Board, saying in a statement that “billionaires should not make a profit off of public school children.”
The Sanders campaign spoke with NPE Action President and co-founder Diane Ravitch to talk about education policy.
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