Thanks to Nick Welsh for his beautiful tribute to Gary Hart.
Some have implied that Gary stopped supporting charter schools because he was “seriously” concerned about the rapid growth of charter schools in California; there are now around 1,300, serving perhaps 10 percent of California’s schoolchildren. Gary remained a strong supporter of charter schools throughout the 30 years I knew him, and his support was confirmed in multiple interviews in recent years.
While all charter school advocates, including me, have concerns about the quality of some of the 1,300 schools, I believe the clear historical record is that Hart remained a strong supporter of his idea throughout. It was his gutsy, groundbreaking legislation that has spread to dozens of states and has benefited millions of needy children and families.
Gary’s strong backbone stands in sharp contrast with many current legislators who vacillate under the pressure of lobbies that protect the interests of adults over children.