Columnist says rapid expansion of charter schools spells trouble for unions, Democrats

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SAN FRANCISCO – Bay Area writer Dwight L. Schwab Jr. believes the rise in charter school popularity spells trouble for the national teachers unions and the Democratic Party.

Schwab cites a recent National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report released last week that shows charter school enrollment topped 2.5 million students, and 600 new charter schools opened in 2013.

The 2.5 million student mark is well over double the number of students who attended charter schools in 2003, and a 288,000-student increase over last year.

“There are now 6,400 public charter schools across the country,” Schwab, a moderate conservative columnist, wrote for The recent figures represent a 7 percent growth in the number of charter schools, and a 13 percent growth in the number of students enrolled in them, he wrote.

Schwab reasons the explosive growth of nonunionized charter schools “is bad news for the powerful teachers unions which vote heavily in favor of the Democratic Party.”

The columnist attributes the popularity of charter schools to financial problems and poor student performance that have plagued many public schools for years. And many of those problems are tied directly to employment contracts negotiated between teachers union and district officials that contain unaffordable employee perks, and work rules that favor employee rights over student needs.

According to Schwab, states like California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Ohio are leading the nation in charter school growth, while Iowa, Wyoming and Maine are among the states with the fewest.

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