In 1988, the late Albert Shanker, then president of the AFT, introduced the notion of charter schools to the American public in a Press Cub speech in Washington, DC. Charter schools have received support across the political spectrum.

Conservatives supported charter schools for a variety of reasons; they believed that:

  • charters would hasten the advent of vouchers
  • a charter school policy could undermine the teachers’ unions
  • charter schools could advance conservative support for deregulation and allow the market to reign.

Many Democrats and liberals supported charters because they thought that:

  • charters would stave off vouchers
  • charter schools would lead to democratic renewal at the local level and help strengthen the community
  • charter schools allowed for greater teacher empowerment.

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