American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to the defense of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Monday for her criticism of charter schools.
“You can be pro-charter and still be critical of things that charters ought not to be doing,” Weingarten said in a conference call with reporters, according to The New York Times. She cited fraud and abuse as some areas where the charter school system has failed. For Hillary, the main issue is how charter schools avoid students that struggle in the classroom.
Weingarten also defended Hillary over the weekend in a opinion piece published on the union’s website. She called on all schools, private and public, to be held to a high standard for the benefit of children.
“Hillary Clinton, a longtime supporter of charter schools, was recently lambasted when she called for accountability for all public schools,” Weingarten wrote Sunday. “They all must be held to educational, financial and ethical standards, particularly now, given that half the children in public schools are poor.”
Hillary made her comments during a campaign stop in South Carolina Nov. 7. During the stop she sat down with journalist Roland Martin at a town hall meeting.
“Here’s a couple of problems,” Hillary told Roland. “Most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.”
One of the criticisms of Hillary is that she flipped-flopped on the issue. The libertarian policy advocate Generation Opportunity noted she supported charter schools for decades. The group cites her praise of charter schools in 1996 for being innovative and focused on getting results.
Weingarten’s defense comes as Hillary has finally begun picking up momentum with the labor movement. Early on unions were hesitant to endorse her campaign over lingering political issues. Her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline were two primary issues.
Hillary did eventually come out against the trade deal. When Vice President Joe Biden announced Oct. 21 he would not be running for president, Hillary saw her biggest wave of union endorsements. She is rumored to soon pickup support from the Service Employees International Union, one of the biggest unions in the country.
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