Questions to Ask the Candidates

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Charter Schools

  • States are awarded millions of federal dollars every year to start charter schools. There is little to no accountability. Consultants review the applications and they are not allowed to verify if the information provided is the truth. Some of the states that have received grants allow for-profit charter schools, unrestricted expansion, and even the exclusion of some students based on things like disciplinary history. Do you support these states receiving federal funds?
  • Several auditors’ reports have identified serious problems with federal funding to charter schools. But these problems have not been addressed by the Education Department. What do you think should be done? If President, what are you willing to do?
  • Who should decide whether a charter school opens? Should the school district have the last word?
  • Do you support the NAACP moratorium on new charter schools until all of the problems they identified have been addressed? Should there be caps on charter schools?
  • Do you support charter schools that are governed by private boards (nearly all are) and not governed by those elected by the public? Specifically, do you support charter school chains such as KIPP and Success Academy that have boards dominated by billionaires?
  • Do you believe that there should be an impact study of the effect on local public schools before a charter school is opened?
  • Do you believe that charter schools should have to follow state public school regulations on student discipline?
  • Do you believe that charter school teachers should be state certified?
  • Are you aware that there are charters receiving federal funding that discriminate against students with disabilities and children who do not speak English? As a candidate, will you pledge to require all charters receiving federal money to abide by all federal civil rights laws?
  • If elected president, would you cut off federal charter funding to any state that allows charters to engage in nepotism, conflicts of interest, and self-dealing? Will you pledge to prohibit any charter funding to states that allow such illicit conduct. 
  • If elected president, would you cut off federal charter funding to any state that allows charters or their management organizations to be run for-profit or that allows the charter owners to take all property and real estate if the school closes?


  • Do you support the reauthorization of the voucher program known as the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) of the SOAR Act that provides tax dollar supported vouchers for students in Washington D.C. to attend private and religious schools, even though studies of the program show that students in the program do worse than if they stayed in public schools?
  • Do you believe that public tax dollars should be used for voucher programs to private or religious schools—either direct vouchers, or any of the popular alternative voucher programs such as Education Scholarship Account programs or tax credit programs?
  • Last year some members of Congress tried to establish an Education Savings Account voucher program for military families funded from impact aid that goes to public schools. Did you support that attempt, and would you have voted for it if it came out of committee?
  • If a private school receives a voucher or scholarship paid for with public dollars, do you believe that school should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, special education or LGBT status?

High-stakes Testing

  • Do you believe in annual, federally mandated testing as required by ESSA?
  • Should testing results be used to determine school takeovers and closures?
  • Do you believe that teachers should be evaluated by student test scores? (If they say yes or as part of multiple measures) What evidence do you have to show that is an effective way to evaluate teachers in light of most of the research that says it does not work?
  • Do you believe that student test scores should be used to determine teacher salaries? In other words, do you believe in merit pay?