In Charter School Fight, Who Speaks for Communities of Color?
At the NAACP’s national convention last month in Cincinnati, the gathering of more than 2,000 delegates approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools, equating them with “the privatization” of the traditional public education system.
Days later, more than 50 African-American and social justice advocacy groups, including the Black Lives Matter network, unveiled a new policy agenda that also called for a moratorium on charter schools, arguing they represent a “systematic attack” on communities of color.
Charter schools have always represented a flashpoint in the education space. But the demands from the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter-affiliated groups highlight a new wrinkle: After years benefiting from a reform-friendly K-12 agenda that allowed its schools to flourish through the elimination of caps and increased funding at the state and federal levels, the charter sector now finds itself in the crosshairs of a burgeoning and wide-scale debate over who truly holds communities of color in their best interest.
But critics of calls for a moratorium, including those who might normally align with the NAACP on other issues, argue that charter schools exist in part to address the very issue of inequality, and point out that they’ve been particularly beneficial for poor students and young African-American males.