January 24, 2016

Booker Event Highlights Clinton’s Flip-Flop On Education Reform

Hillary Clinton’s poor performance with liberals in the Democratic primary has led her to flip-flop on issues as varied as trade and the Keystone XL pipeline. One of the most egregious Clinton flip-flops has been on education reform. In order to get right with the powerful teachers’ unions, Clinton has turned against charter schools, which she’d previously supported.

Today, Senator Cory Booker will be campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Iowa. If there is one thing Booker is known for in public life, it’s his strong support for education reform policies like expanding charter schools. His acceptance of $100 million from Mark Zuckerberg for Newark’s schools made national news, and was predicated on enacting policies supported by education reform activists and opposed by the teachers’ unions.

Booker is such a strong supporter of charter schools and education reform that The Atlantic highlighted it as the “major substantive difference” between Booker and liberals during his Senate race:

“Booker’s major substantive difference with many progressives is on education policy. He is — like President Obama — an advocate of the ‘education reform’ movement; he has backed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s expansion of charter schools and merit pay for teachers, as well as a form of vouchers for some impoverished areas. He sits on the board of Democrats for Education Reform. During last summer’s Democratic convention, Booker spoke at an event hosted by lightning-rod former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.”

Hillary Clinton too had been a strong supporter of charter schools since the 1990s. Facing pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders though, Clinton flip-flopped. At an event in South Carolina last November, Clinton stated:

“So I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system — not outside of it — but within it.”

That’s a long way from what Clinton use to say about charter schools. As First Lady, Clinton stated that:

“The charter school movement should not be seen as a threat to public schools. They should be seen as a liberation of public schools.”

She also supported charter schools in 2008. The flip-flop is so blatant that it’s a leading reason, according to the New York Times, that Michael Bloomberg is exploring a third party run:

“Mr. Bloomberg has lamented what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s lurch to the left in her contest against Mr. Sanders, especially her criticism of charter schools and other education reforms that he pushed as mayor and has continued to support since leaving office.”

Let no one ever say that Hillary Clinton’s cynical brand of politics is not without its benefits sometimes. This flip-flop is just another example that Clinton will say or do anything to win an election. She saw the benefit when the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association endorsed her candidacy.

If Clinton makes it out of the Democratic primary though, it’s an open question if a candidate who puts the interests of a major special interest group above the needs of inner-city students shares the values of a majority of Americans. Unluckily for Clinton, that question won’t be graded on a curve.