Beto O’Rourke was the U.S. Representative from Texas’ 16th Congressional District. He is against high-stakes standardized testing and vouchers. Recently he has declined to comment on charter schools, but historically he has made pro-charter statements. His wife led a charter school for 5 years, and is currently on the board of a non-profit organization working to bring more charter schools to El Paso. Beto said there is a role for charter schools.
Direct Campaign Contributions
Beto for Texas did not receive contributions from prominent education reform donors.
PACs making independent expenditures on behalf of Beto O’Rourke did not receive significant contributions from prominent education reformers.
CNN reports that in a primary debate during his campaign for Congress O’Rourke stated, “I think charter schools are a good idea. They encourage competition. They encourage innovation in the classroom, and they’re a laboratory for some of the best ideas and concepts in public education today.”
In comments about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) O’Rourke wrote that he voted for the legislation because it created “high-quality choices for parents by improving and investing in new charter school models.”
When O’Rourke voted against the federal voucher program in Washington D.C., he stated that the money should be invested in “proven educational models such as charter schools.”
During an AFT Town Hall in Miami O’Rourke was asked if he would support the NAACP’s moratorium on charter schools.
O’Rourke said his “commitment is to public schools and public school education” but failed to say he would support a moratorium. He stated that there is a role for charter schools “as originally intended” if they are held to the same standards and are freely allowed to organize.
O’Rourke voted against the Scholarship for Opportunities and Results Act (SOAR) Act (H.R. 4901), which is the federal voucher program in Washington D.C., stating that “there is still little evidence these students are consistently preforming better than their peers in public schools.”
O’Rourke confirmed his opposition to the use of public funds to support private school vouchers.
At the NEA Strong Public Schools 2020 Presidential Forum O’Rourke doubled down on his position on vouchers, saying, “Not a single dime of our public tax dollars can go to vouchers and private schools in this country.”
O’Rourke voted in favor of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), but in a statement about his vote he said, “We do not need students who do well on standardized tests, we need students who can think creatively and solve problems.”
In an ad for his Senate campaign O’Rourke said that teachers should be able to “teach to the child and not to the test.”
In a social media post O’Rourke shared an article critical of annual state testing in Texas. In the post he stated that teachers should have the “autonomy to teach to their students and not to arbitrary, high-stakes standardized tests.”
He posted a similar statement on Twitter.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Amy O’Rourke was the “Superintendent” of La Fe Preparatory School, a charter school in El Paso. According to the same profile, O’Rourke does not hold any degrees in education or educational administration.
O’Rourke’s wife Amy is on the board of The Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED), a non-profit that works with the business community to, in part, bring charter schools to El Paso.
Politico reported that Carmel Martin became O’Rourke’s national policy director. Martin, a former assistant secretary for policy and budget at the Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan, was most recently Executive Vice President of the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP strongly supports accountability testing, the Common Core and charter schools.
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