I have written extensively over the years here at Cloaking Inequity about the political framing of school choice as being about civil rights and parental choice. I previously disputed this framing in the post Reframing the Refrain: Choice as a Civil Rights Issue.
Yesterday on Facebook, I posted the article Charter schools reason for Mayor Kevin Johnson’s bad behavior? in a Sacramento Facebook group. A member of the Facebook group commented that charter schools are not a movement and solely about parent choice. I responded by disagreeing and posting the following articles. First, I talked about what appears to be the neoliberal end game for charters that became readily apparent in the Puerto Rico financial crisis.
With a few lines of legislative language, Puerto Rican politicians sought the privatization of their schools and the teacher labor force— they legislated an alternative system of private control of education in one fell swoop of a pen. Folks, this is the end game.
Second, school choice is a very WELL funded movement behind the scenes. For example, the Koch Brothers have spent millions and millions of dollars trying to convince Latina/os that school choice is for them via their Libre Project.
Also add the Walton Family Foundation to the list of incredibly wealthy backers. They have given hundreds of millions to school choice causes over the years. Who else thinks this Walton Family Foundation funded panel next week at the Urban League convention in Baltimore could get interesting?
So how about the NAACP? Our nation’s vanguard organization for civil rights. What’s our view on charters… the same civil rights organization that Dr. Martin Luther King said:
In 2010, at the national convention, the NAACP members weighed in by supporting an anti-charter resolution and the NAACP National Board concurred.
I think this resolution on the official position of the NAACP on charters is very clear. Charters create “separate and unequal conditions.” The research supports this statement (See Charters and Access: Here is Evidence). More recently, in 2014, a NAACP resolution weighed on the role of school choice in the private control and privatization of education.
It is readily apparent that the view of the NAACP is that charters schools =
civil rights privatization. As California NAACP Education Chair, I appreciate that we’ve taken a strong stand against for-profit charter schools. When I was doing the background work on this post yesterday, I tweeted out the resolutions above. One response to my tweet from one of my followers was that the resolutions primarily focus on “for-profit” charters. I think this is the wrong read. The second paragraph in the 2014 resolution goes even further. It important to note that the NAACP also took a stand against committing or diverting public funding and tax breaks to charter schools.
As we are well aware in many communities such as Detroit and New Orleans, charters are becoming a privately controlled system utilizing public money. It is very clear that this well-funded movement is succeeding at sapping the financial strength of democratically-controlled neighborhood public schools and placing the capital of our education system in private hands. We have to look no farther than the Gulen-affiliated charter schools, the second largest chain of charters in the United States, to see how accountability, finance, immigration, teacher quality and other loopholes can be taken advantage of for financial gain by allegedly bad actors.
Watch the film Killing Ed to learn more about what’s been happening with Gulen charters right under our nose.
In sum, I believe the NAACP will AGAIN be on the RIGHT side of history and civil rights when remembered for our criticism of charter schools.
For more on what’s going wrong with charters click here.
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