The NAACP made news last week when it called for a moratorium on public charter schools, while a coalition of over 50 other groups called the Movement For Black Lives proposed “An End to the Privatization of Education.” In effect this would mean an end to charter schools that today serve millions of low-income children of color.
In doing so these groups, one a legacy civil rights organization and the other a post-civil rights era “social justice movement,” have provided white liberals freedom to ignore the real concerns Black parents have with low quality traditional public schools.
Missing from both platforms is the voice of Black people who choose charter schools, students who are well served by them, educators who work in them, or staff working in education philanthropies that support them. All of those voices qualify as “Black lives,” but, as educational minorities, they are denied their place in two major forums of Black thought. That just won’t work.
I am one of those parents who chose a charter school and my choice was deeply personal, and practical. Our family needed an option when the traditional school district offered us a small selection of poorly performing schools, checked out teachers, low expectations, and lousy results. We saw a path out and we took it.
Every parent wants their children to do better in life and charter schools are sometimes an attractive option. In fact, when Brilliant Corners Research polled Black parents last year they found 72% of them favored charter schools.
A 2015 poll by Education Post found a similar percentage of Black parents who agreed that “charter schools offer parents in low-income communities options for quality schools that would be otherwise inaccessible to them.”
Findings like these are repeated time and again. The Boston Globe polled Black parents this past April and also found strong support for charter schools.
One study of Black charter school parents in Ohio found, “the main reason parents withdrew their children from the local traditional public school was to improve the quality of education their students were receiving. Parents defined “quality of education” as smaller class sizes, better teachers, teacher familiarity, a sense of belonging, one-on-one attention, and supportive staff.
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