On October 21st Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released a comprehensive K-12 education plan. Most notably she called for a shutdown of the Federal Charter Schools Program, a crack down on for profit charter schools and for profit charter management organizations, and an end to high-stakes testing. Her platform also makes it clear that she does not support voucher schemes in any of their forms.
Direct Campaign Contributions
Elizabeth for MA, Inc. did not receive contributions from prominent education reform donors.
This Super PAC spent $1,026,590.17 to oppose Warren’s 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.
Warren’s K-12 platform calls for ending the federal charter school program. Warren’s plan would only allow charters to be approved by districts and calls for elected charter boards. The plan not only reins in for profit charter schools but also for profit charter management organizations.
Senator Warren expressed deep concern regarding the “waste, fraud, and abuse of federal money” at the hands of for-profit charter schools and charter school management organizations.
Warren strongly opposed lifting the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts, however she also praised charter schools in general: “Many charter schools in Massachusetts are producing extraordinary results for our students, and we should celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools.”
Warren’s K-12 platform makes it clear she does not support vouchers in any form.
In a letter to Betsy DeVos prior to her confirmation as Secretary of education, Senator Warren said the evidence on private school vouchers is “mixed at best” and called them “expensive and dangerous failures that cost taxpayers billions of dollars while destroying public education systems.”
Her platform calls for the elimination of high-stakes testing, the release of all questions on standardized tests and an end to the selling of student data. Although her platform on this issue is excellent, because she has been in favor of accountability testing in the past, we could not give her an A rating on this issue.
At the NEA Strong Public Schools 2020 Presidential Forum Warren appeared to pivot from her previous statements on standardized testing, saying:
“This notion that it’s all about testing—that it’s all about what someone far off in the state capital and the national capital says, ‘Here’s what constitutes success and worse yet, here’s what constitutes failure,'” she said. “No, that’s not what education is about.”
During the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability, Senator Warren’s comments indicated that she views high-stakes standardized tests as the measure that must be used to hold States accountable for the federal tax dollars they receive. The video of the hearing is linked above and the full transcript is here.
Warren said, “If the states are going to get federal dollars to improve public education systems then we need to make sure that those dollars are not being wasted but that they are actually being used to improve education.”
Warren, along with three Democratic senators endorsed by DFER, insisted on stronger accountability measures based on testing to gain their support for ESSA.
Senator Warren’s Senior Education Policy Advisor was a TFA teacher and a policy intern with the Alliance for Excellent Education, a reform leaning 501(c)(3) organization that has received almost $20 million in grant funding from the Gates Foundation.
Although we clearly have some concerns, the candidate has made it clear that she strongly opposes the privatization of public education.
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