House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has done less to advance the growth of charter schools in his 13 years in the U.S. Congress than New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has in the three months he’s been in office, argues a policy brief published Monday by Democrats for Education Reform.
Although Cantor has spent much time advocating for the support and expansion of charter schools through speeches, he has done little beyond talking to actually realize those goals, says the brief, written by Charles Barone—the organization’s policy director—and Mac LeBuhn, a policy analyst for the group. Only three Republicans, which did not include Cantor, signed a letter in support of a new bill that would increase funding for the federal Charter School Program. (Twenty Democrats supported the move.)
Cantor threatened to hold hearings if New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attempted to follow through on his campaign promises and stymie the growth of charter schools there. Yet de Blasio has gone on to greenlight the vast majority of charter school co-locations in the city, the brief notes. And more recently, through the New York state budget deal, de Blasio agreed to a deal that requires the city to provide facilities for many NYC charter schools or help foot the bill for rent in a privately owned space, the authors point out.
The brief’s authors admit that “the federal levers that Eric Cantor has available to affect charter policy ... are different than those in New York City and Albany” and that the federal government “can only be a supporting player” in supporting charter school growth. But signing last week’s letter in support of increased funding to the Charter Schools Program is one example of a concrete action to support charters that Cantor did not take advantage of, they say. The authors urge House Republicans to embrace their reputation as the “party of school choice” and join Democrats in throwing their support behind increased federal charter school funding.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.