The NAACP Will Learn the Pain Associated With Charter Schools
“Before the NAACP came to New Orleans, we never had the opportunity to share,” Kim Ford, communications chair for the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, said exclusively to The Root.
Ford helped organize the national organization’s sixth hearing on quality education, which took place in the Crescent City on April 6.
“We are a frustrated people,” she continued. “We are a damaged people. We will shut it down for everybody.”
That’s exactly what happened.
What was described as a forum to “discuss the impact of charters on underfunded districts, sustainability of public education, increased accountability and transparency,” according to a press release, actually became an unorganized venting session largely decrying the injustices of charter schools, Teach for America and the firing of teachers post-Katrina.
A seven-city tour emerged in the wake of the NAACP board resolution last year that called for a countrywide moratorium on charter school expansions, which received significant pushback (pdf) from pro-charter advocacy groups and school leaders.
With nearly all of New Orleans’ public school students attending charter schools, the NAACP’s visit to the Crescent City posed an opportunity for the historic civil rights organization and other cities to learn about the successes and trade-offs of an all-charter district, possibly too unusual a case from which to draw suggestions. New Orleans is currently the only large school district in the country in which nearly all of its public school students attend charter schools. But the hearing gave New Orleans yet another opportunity to express the pain from an apparently still open wound inflicted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The NAACP invited five presenters apiece to argue for and against the NAACP resolution. The crowd of approximately 250 attendees, mostly black, overwhelmingly sided with presenters who supported the resolution, which, from the consistent pattern of boos and hisses, translated to being against charter schools. With the exception of invited speakers, current educators from the all-charter district were conspicuously absent.
Still, clear differences arose from the back-and-forth of invited experts.
After citing many confirmed abuses of charter schools post-Katrina, Bill Quigley, professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans, said, “In The NAACP Will Learn the Pain Associated With Charter Schools: