August 7, 2016; Washington Post

Last month, at its annual national convention, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People penned a resolution calling for a moratorium on the expansion of privately managed charters and a review of their disciplinary practices, which have been criticized many times for race-based discrimination. It also called for transparency, enforcement of laws to prevent fraud, waste, and corruption, and an end to charter school practices that exploit communities and neighborhoods.

Though the national board will have to approve it before it becomes policy, over the years the NAACP has repeatedly raised concerns about charter schools, rejecting the notion that they should be considered a vanguard of school reform and expressing concern about the re-segregation that has resulted from pursuing that strategy as a priority.

The new resolution is even more specific about its concerns, which include the following points:

  • “Charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system.”
  • “Weak oversight of charter schools puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education.”
  • “[R]esearchers have warned that charter school expansions in low-income communities mirror predatory lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage disaster, putting schools and communities impacted by these practices at great risk of loss and harm…”

Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig, the education chair of the California and Hawaii NAACP, says he believes it’s “time to pump the brakes and reevaluate.”

“What the education reformers have put on the table is top-down, private control and privatization of schools,” he says. “Choice does not have to be that way; choice can be about community-based solutions.”

Jitu Brown, the national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, says, “We applaud the one out of five charter schools that are truly centers of innovation, fulfilling their original intent. The charter school movement however, tries to spin mediocre interventions as school improvement while snatching away a family’s choice of a high quality neighborhood school within walking distance of their homes. These are ‘hustlers’ who use civil rights language to repeatedly violate the civil rights of Black and Brown communities.”—Ruth McCambridge