Friday, October 28, 2016

Charter School Expansion Should Be Paused, NAACP President Says

Charter School Expansion Should Be Paused, NAACP President Says:

NAACP President: Why We Should Pause the Expansion of Charter Schools

[Op-Ed] The organization's leader explains their position on the schools and responds to those who have been critical of it

As America’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP has fought to this very day to give each of the nation’s youngest citizens a quality education regardless of race. We have even taken that fight to the marble steps of the Supreme Court. There, in the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled, “In the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Over 60 years later, these words ring resoundingly true in the hearts of parents who know all too well that in all too many cases, the education their children are receiving remains separate and unequal.
Earlier this year, 2,000 delegates representing virtually every school district across the country passed a resolution calling for a reasoned pause on charter school expansion, not rash elimination. The National Board then ratified the convention delegates’ position, reaffirming decades of NAACP support for public education. Many allies have commended our position and raised very similar concerns, including the Movement for Black Lives, which called for an end to charter schools as we know them just weeks after our July convention. But there has also been much unfounded outrage, with some critics even claiming that our decades-old position is contrary to the NAACP’s mission.
The NAACP has called for a pause on the expansion of charter schools in order to ensure the quality of them all. We are also calling for solutions, such as better educated and certified teachers that work for students across the board.
Let us be clear, there is a role for high performing charter schools. However, we cannot continue to ignore the proliferation of low-performing charter schools that lack accountability. According to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, while 27 percent of charter schools outperform traditional public schools in math and reading, 25 percent of charters performed worse. Charter schools are doing no better than traditional public schools at meeting the expectations that we parents hold for our children’s education.
We are sensitive to the needs of African-American parents across our country whose public school systems have failed their children. Parents should not have to wait for the public school system to get this right. However, many parents have also been lured by the false promises of charter school systems that actually underperform public schools. As The New York Times reported earlier this year, in Detroit the results have been disastrous to both traditional and charter schools. And, there are similar races to the bottom in communities all across the country.
Every school district is like a large family, made up of all sorts of students with diverse skills and abilities. Charter schools fragment those families, selecting only some students with the most apparent skills and abilities. As a result, only about 25 percent of charter schools have student bodies that mirror the demographics of their respective sending districts.
Research demonstrates that though charter schools promise a superior education, many have created a privileged subset of privately run, publicly funded schools with minimal government oversight, transparency, or accountability and many fail to provide a quality education. The quality of charter schools is inconsistent at best.
Thriving charter schools often owe their success to exclusionary selection

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