Heather Kays | Watchdog.org
African-American education reform leaders say the NAACP ‘s Oct. 15 vote to ratify its moratorium against charter schools will accomplish little but weakening the organization’s reach in black communities.
“It’s unfortunate that the NAACP’s union handlers wouldn’t allow them to have a fair and inclusive discussion about the educational needs of the black poor,” Chris Stewart, director of outreach and external affairs at the Education Post and a community leader in Chicago, told Watchdog.org.
“The good news is we now have a critical mass of black and brown families who see charter schools as a lifeline out of urban education deserts,” said Stewart. “One way or another the black bourgeoisie will have to reckon with that.”
The NAACP finalized a resolution proposing a moratorium on new charter schools, claiming public charters targeting low-income and minority areas drain funding and worsen segregation.
Stewart, who was part of the ChartersWork campaign against the NAACP’s stance, said the NAACP ignored multiple requests for meetings to discuss the issue.
The Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools launched the ChartersWork campaign, with 160 African-American education leaders signing a letter opposing the NAACP’s call for a moratorium. More than 2,700 people signed a parent letter before the NAACP vote.
Families protested outside of the NAACP vote on Saturday in Cincinnati.
More than 700,000 black families have children enrolled in public charter schools.
“The more they try to marginalize these families, the more irrelevant they will become to the very people they say they represent,” said Stewart. “I think that’s already happening.”
Howard Fuller, founder and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, expressed disappointment with the NAACP vote.
“I expected this,” said Fuller. “As I have said over and over again, I respect the NAACP as an organization. I disagree with this resolution. It will not change my views or my work in any way. The NAACP is not the only voice in the black community.”
Derrell Bradford, executive director of NYCAN, told Watchdog.org the vote created a sense of sadness considering the great work the NAACP has done throughout its 107-year history.
“As a practical matter, the NAACP’s vote changes nothing; no kid getting a great education in a charter school today won’t get one tomorrow because of this vote,” said Bradford. “But it is sad to watch an organization which once held such importance stumble under the weight of a bad idea that would also be bad policy. Caps aren’t good, especially when they are on progress and freedom.”