I just returned from the 2017 NAACP national convention in Baltimore. Two important events occurred. The first I’m not going to talk about here on Cloaking Inequity until after the NAACP National Board meeting in the fall— I learned my lesson last year :). Second, the NAACP’s Task Force on High Quality Education released a report after their year long listening tour that took place across the United States.
Here’s what I wrote in The Progressive Magazine about the Task Force and its recent report.
The NAACP, one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights groups, released a major report on charter schools today.
“Quality Education for All: One School at a Time” presents a set of transparency and accountability recommendations about charters schools based on feedback received in public hearings in cities across the United States.
The report, which calls for greatly enhancing the ability of local communities to approve or reject charter schools and getting for-profit providers out of the game, represents the culmination of several years of efforts by the group to develop standards for charter schools—typically privately operated outfits that receive public money.
During the past decade, the number of students in charter schools has nearly tripled, with approximately 3.1 million enrolled in 2016-17. In fact, one in eight black students in the United States now attends a charter school.
The NAACP previously decried the lack of transparency and accountability for charter schools by passing three resolutions at its national conventions.
In 2010, the group’s convention delegates and national board supported a resolution saying state charter schools create “separate and unequal conditions.” In 2014, a NAACP national resolution connected school choice with the private control of public education.
Then, in 2016, a resolution voted on by more than 2,000 NAACP members from across the United States garnered national attention because it called for a charter moratorium until these schools “are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.”
Afterward, the NAACP created a task force on charter schools, whose charge was later expanded to examine quality education for students of color. The task force’s mission was to recommend “actions needed to improve the quality of education for all children of color being educated with public funds and to ensure the sustainability of an effective public education system for all children.”
That process led to the report released today. It acknowledges the severe inequities that still plague the funding of schools in wealthy versus poor communities. It argues that “to solve the quality education problems that are at the root of many of the issues, school finance reform is essential to ensure that resources are allocated according to student needs.”
The report also calls for specific investments in low-performing schools to close the achievement gaps for poor students versus their wealthier peers. It backs federal, state, and local policies to attract and retain fully qualified educators, improve instructional quality, and provide wraparound services for young people.
Importantly, the report goes further than 2016 resolution in calling for a permanent and rigorous local role in authorizing and renewing charter schools. It would “empower those districts to reject applications that do not meet standards, and establish policies for serious and consistent oversight.”
The report also goes beyond the moratorium by proposing the elimination of for-profit charter schools. It states that “no federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies.”
The NAACP, the oldest civil rights group and a vanguard of quality education since 1909, is not alone in taking a more critical posture towards charter schools. Other civil rights organizations such as the Journey for Justice Alliance, an alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations, and the Movement for Black Lives, a conglomeration of the nation’s youngest national civil rights organizations, have also led conversations about rethinking the education of students of color in charter schools.
Check out my other Progressive Magazine pieces here.
Now for the roundup of coverage about the release of the NAACP Task Force on Quality Education report.
I’ll begin with a sample of the national press.
Dear 74: #incognegro
The article Betsy DeVos Is Making “School Choice” Toxic for Democrats in the New Republic is my favorite!:
Sample of local press:
If you read the criticism in the media, I believe it’s pretty clear that the commentators (i.e. Howard Fuller) were shooting from the hip in their statements without doing their homework and actually reading the report. Which means that their comments made it into print, but that they were not relevant to the report. I proffer that the report’s recommendations that focus on resource equity and recommendations for more accountability are not particularly controversial— but very necessary.
Here are a couple of blogs:
I’ll end with a few more Instagram photos from the convention.
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