New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg is playing catchup in terms of getting all of his policy proposals fleshed out and published for public inspection. But his team has been hard at work trying to get all of their bases covered and this week they’re preparing to release his education plan. A lot of it is fairly standard material by Democratic Party standards, with plenty of free stuff and more taxpayer funding going into the public school system. But there’s one portion of the summary that will definitely set Bloomberg apart from the rest of the field, and probably not in a good way. Similar to how he ran things as Mayor of New York City, Mike will be throwing his support to charter schools. (NY Post)
Presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg may have backed off supporting stop-and-frisk, but he plans to double-down on another controversial policy from his time as New York Mayor — expanding charter schools.
Bloomberg will soon roll out an education plan that will include backing the privately managed schools as an option for families, his campaign office told The Post — drawing a contrast with other top-tier Democratic presidential rivals.
“Mike’s education plan will absolutely promote charter schools,” Bloomberg campaign spokesman Stu Loeser insisted.
To his credit, Michael Bloomberg actually did promote and support the expansion of charter schools during his tenure as Mayor of New York City. (A process that Bill de Blasio has been doing his darndest to undermine since taking office.) So in terms of his past positions, he’s definitely being consistent here.
The problem for Bloomberg is that his position is widely unpopular in the Democratic Party. Most of the candidates running against Bloomberg decry charter schools using the tired old claim that they somehow undermine public schools rather than offering parents more choices for their children’s education. Joe Biden’s education plan doesn’t include a single mention of charter schools, but he’s been skeptical of them in the past. Also, he focuses almost entirely on Title I spending increases. Elizabeth Warren’s plan goes much further, calling for an end to the “privatization and corruption of our public education system.”
But it’s not just the voters that Bloomberg needs to be worried about in this case. All Democratic presidential candidates are hungry for the endorsement of the teacher’s unions. They not only channel a lot of contributions to the Democrats but also tend to carry some weight with the base when they offer their backing. Incorporating charter schools into your platform is a surefire way to have the unions take a pass on you.
Will that really matter to Bloomberg? Probably not. He’s got enough of his own money that he doesn’t need to worry about their campaign contributions and he surely knows that he’s not going to be getting many endorsements. (Sorry, Mike, but the elderly, wealthy, white, heterosexual male lane is already pretty full.)
Is any of this going to make a difference? I’ll confess that Bloomberg has surprised me a bit by driving his RCP average up to 5.6 in a short period of time. But that still leaves him well behind the four currently viable candidates. He’s only made it above ten percent (eleven, actually) in one national poll back in December. He doesn’t even make it out of the background static in either Iowa or New Hampshire.
And all of this is taking place while Bloomberg is arguably spending more advertising money than anyone else in the race. You can’t go five minutes without seeing a Bloomberg ad on CNN or NBC News. He’s already spent well over $100M on advertising, frequently averaging as much as four million per day. If you can’t buy your way into the nomination with that sort of cash, I’m not sure how much your support of charter schools is going to hurt you further.