Perhaps ironically after devoting an entire report to the topic, the NAACP suggests that charter schools may be a distraction: 'It is a concern that charter schools have had a larger influence on the national conversation about how to improve education in communities of color than these other well-researched educational investments.'Graduation rates and achievement for Black students, while pitiful, are better than they have ever been. We’ve got to focus on Black student achievement everywhere, in every school. You could get rid of every charter school tomorrow and it would not help the Black community a whit. In fact I think you would have revolt on your hands from some Black parents, who are being relatively well served by their charters. There is a raging fire and here we are, arguing about where to spray the hose—with the NAACP focusing on only one room as the house is consumed by flames.
Dirk Tillotson is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Great Schools Choices, which supports community-based charter school development and increasing access for underserved families. He has worked for over 20 years supporting mostly charter community schools in Oakland, New Orleans and New York City, and he’s even consulted on education issues in the Middle East. As a child, his parents moved their family to a high-performing school district where they were the first Black family on the block. The challenges of that experience embedded in him a desire to create academically high-quality schools where students don’t have to check their identities at the door. Dirk currently resides in Oakland, California, and blogs at Great School Voices.
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