The growing militancy of teachers unions and their tendency to make uncontrolled growth of charter schools a primary issue means Booker won’t be able to dodge or finesse the issue much longer. And the way the wind is blowing in Democratic circles was amply illustrated by a recent column from former Chicago mayor — and former Clinton and Obama staffer — Rahm Emanuel, who regretted his long battles with teachers over his advocacy of “education reform,” which often came across as simply union-bashing.
Booker could choose to flatly repudiate his past positions on education policy and take this issue largely off the table for the 2020 primaries. Or he could, as other Democrats have long done, draw a bright line between private-school vouchers and public charter schools, and reject unaccountable charters that exist to make profits. He could even double down on his heresies as a token of independence from Democratic interest groups. But at some point soon he’ll have to make up his mind.