The CEO of Democrats for Education Reform and Education Reform Now think tank, Jorge Elorza, believes that the Democratic Party has lost its advantage on education because it has failed to recognize the importance of school choice for families and voters. This has put pressure on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, who is campaigning for public schools and wants to maintain his position if Biden is reelected. Cardona has criticized conservative proposals to fund private schools, arguing that this ignores the needs of students in local neighborhood schools. However, private school choice programs are expanding rapidly, with Republican governors in several states supporting subsidies for private school tuition. Public school enrollment has also decreased due to the pandemic, and Democrats are struggling to regain trust on education issues. Elorza argues that Democrats should embrace school choice and open enrollment policies to appeal to voters and address the needs of students. The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, agrees that students should have choices within the public system, but there are debates over the role of market-based principles in education. Keri Rodrigues, the president of the National Parents Union, believes Democrats should focus on school choice as a tool for equity and empowerment. Cardona supports choice but emphasizes the need to support neighborhood schools. Overall, Democrats are grappling with how to respond to conservatives on education issues while still maintaining support for public schools.
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