"All over the country, dedicated educators of color are leading charter schools that cultivate the minds of children too-often locked out of success in traditional public schools."—Vesia Hawkins, Nashville parent and blogger, Volume & Light
The NAACP hosts its annual convention this weekend, after holding a series of "hearings" over the past year on the organization's moratorium on charter schools, despite the fact that school choice is
very popular with families and that charter schools are
significantly outperforming traditional public schools in educating children of color from low-income households. Education Post's network of parent bloggers (like Vesia Hawkins in Nashville) and education advocates have been raising their voices in support of the power of school choice and the promise of charter schools to provide more quality school options. These are the people who have seen and felt the difference that charter schools have made in the education and future of our children. Their voices need to be part of the conversation:
The NAACP could have used their considerable social capital to call a national convening of black educators who have demonstrable success with educating black children....They could have asked
the 700,000 black students attending charter schools what they like about their schools. They could have asked black parents why they invest their hopes and dreams in these schools. And, they could have asked black teachers, often pioneering teachers frustrated by incremental change in district schools, why they teach in charter schools. Alas, they didn’t ask. They didn’t want to know.
The barriers facing our children and families have no sector—they are the American problem, and we need honest internal debates, not shows put on for the outside or for sponsors, on either 'side.' I hope we can start to have those real honest debates about the state of education for our children here, what is working, what is not working, and how we make things better.
It’s sad that the NAACP is focusing so much energy on road-blocking the only path many Black and Brown students have toward a brighter future. Perhaps the most painful thing about all this is to watch the NAACP join forces with the teachers unions, a powerful union that puts adults before children. Now is not the time to form unholy alliances in a desperate attempt to
No one from the NAACP, despite my lifetime membership, has ever reached out to me as a charter school leader and said, can I come and see your school? Can I understand what’s going on? How can you pretend to know what’s best for black children when you aren’t talking to the families who are being served by these schools? Or the leaders who are running these schools?
—Superintendent of Ivy Preparatory Academies Alisha Thomas Morgan, on the EdLANTA blog, Atlanta
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.
As a Black parent with a child in a charter school, I urge the NAACP to rethink this resolution. Why does strengthening low-performing public schools mean ending the expansion of high-quality charters?
Michael Vaughn was the founding Communications Director of Education Post. Prior to that, Mike worked for 18 years in the communications offices of two urban school districts. He served in a variety of communications roles for the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1996, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of CPS, and eventually served as the district's Communications Director until ...