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Opinion: Building Up Barriers

Hillary Clinton’s position on school choice hurts low-income students

March 16, 2016
Rachel Campos-Duffy
U.S. News & World Report

Last month, presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton unveiled a new agenda she promised would tear down barriers to opportunity for low-income and minority communities. While she was able to garner a few headlines, it doesn’t change the fact that she opposes the surest way to give children the best shot at a better life: expanding school choice and access to charter schools.

I say that as a Latina mother of seven who has taken advantage of educational options for my own children, and who has seen school choice policies improve thousands of lives in my home state of Wisconsin. It has clearly worked for Hispanic families in Florida, Nevada, Arizona and elsewhere.

Charter schools in particular have proven a lifeline for millions of children stuck in chronically failing schools. That’s especially true in some urban areas where fewer than one-in-three students are proficient in reading and writing. For these children, charter schools are their only chance to escape a life of hopelessness and poverty.

Clinton hasn’t always been so opposed. In fact, as first lady, she was a strong supporter of the charter school movement. During a 1998 White House meeting, she advocated that “charter schools are a way of bringing teachers and parents and communities together.”

But as a presidential candidate, Clinton has flipped to a steadfast opponent of school choice, making no exception in the instance of failing traditional public schools. As she put it last year, “I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system – not outside of it.”

As a mother myself, I cannot imagine a more heartless response to the millions of children whose lives depend on access to charter

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