Monday, August 8, 2016

Black Organizations Say No -- or at Least, Slow Down -- to Charter Schools

Black Organizations Say No -- or at Least, Slow Down -- to Charter Schools:

Black Organizations Say No -- or at Least, Slow Down -- to Charter Schools

The NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives cast a cold eye on education reform.

(Photo: AP/The Flint Journal-MLive.com/Jake May)
Students learn and practice yoga on International Yoga Day on June 21, 2016, at The New Standard charter school in Flint, Michigan.

 t its national convention in July, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the nation’s premier civil-rights organizations, passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools. The resolution said, among other things, that charters have contributed to segregation, have used disproportionately high levels of punitive and exclusionary discipline, and pledged that the NAACP will seek to promote stronger investigative bodies to oversee charter school fraud, corruption, and waste. The resolution will not become official policy until the NAACP’s national board convenes later this fall, but it builds on previous resolutions passed in 2010 and 2014 that were also critical of charter schools.

A coalition of more than 50 black-led organizations known as the Movement for Black Lives—aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement—also released a wide-ranging policy platform last week outlining a collective political agenda that the groups had been hammering out since more than 1,000 activists and organizersgathered in Cleveland last summer.
Though their platform focuses on issues ranging from prisons and police to economic justice, a considerable portion is focused on education. In addition to calls for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a fully-funded education, the Movement for Black Lives demands a moratorium on charter schools, an end toschool closures, and an end to “market reformer” programs like Teach for America.
The new calls for national charter moratoriums from both the NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives highlights the growing divides among civil-rights organizations and people of color over support for the so-called education reform agenda.
The new calls for national charter moratoriums from both the NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives highlights the growing divides among civil-rights organizations and people of color over support for the so-called education reform agenda.
Jonathan Stith, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice, a network of 30 youth-led groups across the country, co-authored the Movement for Black Lives’ education proposals. I asked him how their coalition arrived at their position on education reform as they were crafting their policy language, given that many black families support school choice.
“We definitely hear that, and that’s part of the reason why our platform calls for community control,” he says. “I think what you hear from those groups [that support charters] is that they feel that they want some level of control and influence over public education, and we by no means seek to deny that.” Specifically, the platform calls for things like democratically elected school boards and ending state takeovers.
“We recognize that for families, the first priority is to find the best educational opportunity for their children, and some families feel that charter schools provide that,” Stith says. “But we feel that is a false choice; charter schools are used to pull funding from other schools, they destabilize traditional public schools, and ultimately lead to their closures.” He adds that there is a growing number of black families in charter schools who have had bad experiences, and have been pushed Black Organizations Say No -- or at Least, Slow Down -- to Charter Schools:

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