Black Parents Don't Have Time for a Charter vs. Traditional Schools Debate

Oct 20, 2016 12:00:00 AM

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Black parents have enough to worry about just by virtue of having a Black child. We worry about our Black babies’ safety every day when they leave the house, whether they are walking or driving. In addition, we worry about their physical, mental and emotional state, when they attend school, regardless of school model. So it should go without saying that many Black parents do not have time for this distracting “divide and conquer” strategy with this whole business about the NAACP's moratorium versus education reformers. Uh, news flash, the pre-K through 12 education system is not about the grown folk and their feelings! It is about ensuring all children, regardless of their zip code have equitable access to safe school environments and quality educational opportunities— period! [pullquote]For most parents and students, the bottom line is very clear: Schools are supposed to be for kids.[/pullquote] This Black mom does not care what color adult you are. If you choose to run a school, be a principal of a school, a teacher at a school, a district school board member, a charter school board member, support staff in a school or a lawmaker making decisions about a school, all of your adult decisions should be about protecting the educational rights of all students—both in traditional and charter schools! And if you feel you can’t educate all children fairly and treat them as human beings, then find another profession, preferably one that doesn’t include other people’s children. It is that simple—no gray area. Marginalized communities really can’t afford to entertain privileged folk agendas at the expense of their own children’s well-being. For example, with these oppressive discipline policies in both charters and traditional schools, Black parents are too busy trying to keep our babies out of the cradle-to-prison pipeline. So please, stop exploiting the fears and emotions of Black parents and playing on our desperation to ensure our babies receive a safe and high-quality educational experience. Again, all schools need to be great safe schools, that treat Black kids with dignity and respecting the rights of parents to do what is in the best interest of their child, regardless of zip code! The demand of some Black parents was clearly made in a  press release statement from the  Connecticut Parents Union and the New York City Parents Union. nyc-press-release   There must come a time when we don’t allow those with the financial ability to choose great schools for their children and pit Black parents against Black parents in the traditional versus charter school battle. As Black parents we have to stop dividing ourselves. We must organize because we are not outnumbered, we are just out organized because we have very limited access to financial resources and innovative technologies to organize effectively in this day and age. And for those who are comfortable with the oppression of others,  know and remember this: These are our babies we send to those classrooms everyday. And even without adequate financial resources, we will continue to rise and fight for equitable educational opportunities for our babies and all children. This includes holding traditional schools and charter decision makers accountable to the roles they play in our children’s lives because s chools are for kids and all kids matter, even Black kids!
An original version of this post appeared on Gwen Samuel's blog.

Gwen Samuel

Gwen Samuel is the founder and president of the Connecticut Parents Union. She is an advocate for the educational rights of all children to ensure that race, zip code and socio-economic status are not predictors of student success. A parent of two children in Connecticut Public Schools, she also is the founder of two volunteer organizations in Connecticut—State of Black CT Alliance and Meriden Kids Walk Safe Coalition: A Safe Routes to School Initiative. Ms. Samuel, along with other parents and educational advocates, successfully introduced the state’s “Parent Trigger” law, in the form of School Governance Councils, which allows parents to make recommendations that support turning around systemically low-performing schools. In recognition of her work, Parenting magazine selected Ms. Samuel as one of 51 mothers nationwide to represent Connecticut at the inaugural Mom Congress on Education and Learning Conference in Washington, D.C.

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