Beto O'Rourke

Beto Called Charter Schools a 'Good Idea' in 2012. He Was Right.

The presidential candidate suggested at the time that charter schools and traditional public schools can coexist.


|||Everett Collection/Newscom
Everett Collection/Newscom

Beto O'Rourke voiced support for charter schools when he was running for Congress in 2012. Now that he's running for president, will he stand by that statement?

"I think charter schools are a good idea," the Texas Democrat during in a primary debate. "They encourage competition. They encourage innovation in the classroom, and they're a laboratory for some of the best ideas and concepts in public education today."

O'Rourke suggested that charter schools, which are privately run and publicly funded, can coexist with traditional public schools. He added that charter schools can help "encourage a lifelong love of earning—learning, and earning—and intellectual curiosity."

CNN reported O'Rourke's comments on Thursday.

Charter schools have been close to the O'Rourke family. Amy O'Rourke, the candidate's wife, founded La Fe Preparatory School at age 25; the elementary charter school served both English and Spanish speakers in El Paso, Texas. After running that school for five years, Amy moved on. She currently works for the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREED). CREED describes itself as a nonprofit group dedicated to "increasing the number of high-performing seats in El Paso's public education system" by "investing in initiatives that are creating measurable outcomes to close the achievement gap for El Paso student." That includes support for charter schools.

Despite his 2012 comments and despite his wife's work history, O'Rourke has worked to minimize the differences between his views on educational policy and those of his fellow Democrats. He's made it clear on several occasions, for example, that he does not support school vouchers. Just last year, while running for Senate, he called school choice "a ploy to funnel funds" into private schools.

America's education debates are plagued by political pressure from schoolteachers and school boards and by misinformation about who benefits from school choice. But the reality is that charter schools tend to have more room to innovate than public schools—and when they fail, they're more likely to be held accountable.

Bonus video: Libertarian businessman Bob Luddy, creator of a charter school, began his own private school to offer an alternative to waste in education.

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  1. This is his worst closet skeleton yet!

  2. And I anxiously await a journalist to ask him why he has changed his mind. I intend to be waiting awhile. After all, Democrats never have to explain anything and can change their minds about any issue at any time without ever having to answer for it.

  3. The arguments against charter schools from Democrats are very similar to their ones about private prisons, and have the same flaw. Are private entities taking advantage of the system to make money, and are there bad charter schools? Absolutely! However, do they perform worse than or waste/steal money from taxpayers more than the public and union run schools and prisons? Absolutely not, and by focusing on problems with the tiny percentage of private schools/prisons, they completely ignore the overall underlying issues and let public prisons/schools get away with murder.

  4. Just last year, while running for Senate, he called school choice “a ploy to funnel funds” into private schools.

    People change.

    1. Especially when they run for office.

      1. Meanwhile, funneling funds into teacher’s unions that vote Democrat is “for the children”.

  5. So this is one of the two times per day Puta is right?

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  8. Beto O’Rourke Said Something that He Doesn’t Support Now, but Sounded Kind of Good. Liberaltarians Attempt Praise

  9. So Reason will not cover the best Presidential candidate for 2020- Donald Trump.

  10. With all due respect to the Quakers, what’s with calling strangers by their first names?

    I don’t know Mr. O’Rourke. He implicitly invites me to talk about him like he was a buddy, to make me feel more comfortable voting for him.

    It doesn’t work.

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