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.