Charter Schools

I Don’t Understand Why the NAACP Would Want to Make It Harder for Kids Like Mine

When my son was in kindergarten, he didn’t seem to be learning like the other children. I knew something was wrong. The school evaluated him and said that he needed to be in a “special” school—and that he couldn’t stay in a regular school. I disagreed. I felt like they were writing him off. I entered him in the lottery to go to Uncommon Schools and he got in. Once there, they identified that my son had a learning delay and provided him with all the services he needed to be successful in a general education classroom along with his peers. He still struggles with reading, but he is keeping up and doing well. I have no doubt he’s going to college. His school literally changed his life’s trajectory. So this week, when the NAACP task force comes to New York City to hold their hearing on the merits of a charter school moratorium, I hope they take my son’s story into account. The NAACP needs to understand that charter schools are working for thousands, if not millions, of low-income Black students. In fighting for Black children, the NAACP should be making sure that great schools—no matter what their form—get their support. My children and I live in East New York. I’m raising two Black boys in the heart of one of the toughest places to live in America. People are struggling with unemployment, lack of educational resources and failing schools. I don’t understand why the NAACP would want to make it harder for kids like mine. I don’t know where my kids would go if not for their charter school. Eight years after I made the important decision to send him to a charter school, my son is in eighth grade and ready to go to high school. Because of his school, he’s interested in studying political science and African-American studies in college. He would make a great member of the NAACP one day. The other day, he went to spend a day at the Uncommon high school and sat in an AP History class. He came home so excited. I asked him, what did you think? He smiled and said, “I think I can pass AP History.” Across the country, too many children don’t even have access to AP classes, particularly Black children. My son not only goes to a school in Brownsville that offers AP classes but he will have access to AP classes even though he has a learning disability. I can’t think of stronger evidence of how much his school believes in him. My son is going to college because his teachers at Uncommon Schools didn’t focus on what he couldn’t do—instead they saw all of the possibilities of what he could do. I hope the NAACP sees those possibilities as well.
An original version of this post appeared on New York School Talk as Dear NAACP: This Charter School Embraced My Son After a Traditional School Tried To Push Him Out.
Felecia Brown Butler was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is a dedicated mother of three beautiful sons and a fierce advocate for her community and great schools for all children.

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