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If Democrats choose the teachers unions, Hispanics will choose their families instead

Recent polls have been worrying for Democrats, with one takeaway becoming clear: President Biden has a Hispanic voter problem.

As one of those voters, I know this to be true. When I first came to this country, I became a Democrat and even worked for the teachers unions. It quickly became clear to me that the education establishment does not represent my community’s best interests. It’s also clear that President Biden and the Democratic Party have continued to choose the teachers unions over my family. 

Biden attended Catholic schools. He speaks often of supporting minorities and the working class. Yet, he has opposed public and private school choice, something that has proven to be a lifeline for many of these families.

Enrollment for the nation’s charter schools went up significantly during and after the pandemic, and the fastest-growing demographic for charter schools was Hispanic, accounting for half of charter enrollment growth. Biden is now calling to cut desperately needed funding for these schools.

Meanwhile, the same Catholic schools he attended are a lifesaver for Hispanic students across the country, yet his administration stands firmly against expanding choices for low-income students to choose these and other schools that meet their needs.

Biden’s budget proposal slashes funding for charter schools, which enroll many Hispanic and Black students. He has done nothing to support the Educational Choice for Children Act or the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. During the State of the Union address, he called for free preschool, even as his administration continues to attack K-12 education choices for lower-income communities.

As I quickly learned, the teachers’ union is not bipartisan. In 2022, 99.9 percent of AFT’s donations went to Democrats. When I worked for the union in Nevada, I realized that they were in the business of hoarding power, not improving working conditions for teachers or education options for children. I left the unions and the Democratic Party. Many Hispanic families are doing the same today.

In a new poll, Biden’s lead over Trump among Hispanics is only nine points, down from his 23-point margin in 2020 and Hillary Clinton’s 39-point margin in 2016. Among working-class voters, the lead is just one point. As a college-educated, first-generation American who works with many working-class members of my community, I am not surprised. 

Many issues such as the economy may be to blame, but Democrats ignore education voters at their own peril. Hispanic support for school choice is high and rising, up 8 percentage points since 2020 to 71 percent, in a recent poll commissioned by my organization.

Biden’s actions speak louder than words. He cannot tell us to believe in him and how much he cares about the Hispanic community while denying how badly the education system continues to fail us. The nation’s report card keeps showing a growing achievement gap, and in my state of Nevada, chronic absenteeism has grown to 38 percent, while students are failing to reach important academic benchmarks at all grade levels. 

Hispanic parents will do what it takes for our children to succeed. I take pride in what I have accomplished with my education, but I want better for my child than what I had.

Despite what some operatives may assume, no party or politician owns Hispanic voters. We will choose what is best for our families. Both parties should wake up to that fact and act accordingly — or else face the consequences.

Valeria Gurr is a senior fellow for the American Federation for Children. 

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