To the chagrin of charter advocates, on Friday the national board of the NAACP ratifiedan earlier resolution (pdf) that called for a moratorium on charter schools.
Given the ample sources of opposition to charter schools, as well as mixed results, we should only be surprised that it’s taken this long for a major black civil rights organization to officially rebuke the sector.
Leading up to the ratification, the charter lobby, which has felt put upon in recent weeks, dished out heaping doses of power in a thinly veiled attempt to rally the charter community. There was a letter-writing campaign (pdf) among black leaders, numerous editorials and the deployment of paid bloggers to attack the NAACP. The charter sector also got cold shoulders from the Movement for Black Lives and even presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, among others.
“Charters work” was the rallying cry to stop the NAACP from ratifying the moratorium. But for many charter schools to work, they have (unnecessarily) taken away voting and other political rights, removed attendance zones, categorically fired teachers—black teachers—and turned a blind eye to harmful voucher programs that flood the market with bad private schools. Charter schools in Ohio and Michigan have pushed entire states backward.
Be clear: Charter schools have never been the problem for black communities that steamrolling black people, our organizations and our voices has been. The charter lobby’s response to the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charter schools reveals what powerful white organizations will do to black people in order to get what they want. But the moratorium offered goals that black people need.
In its released statement, the NAACP listed its conditions for lifting its moratorium:
Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools;
Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system;
Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate; and
Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest-performing children from those whose aspirations may be high, but whose talents are not yet as obvious.