On Saturday, the NAACP National Board adopted the resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools passed in July at its 107th National Convention:
We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:
(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools
(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system
(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and
(4) 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.
The reactions to the vote were fast and furious.
Jacqueline Cooper, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options , said in a statement:
We are absolutely stunned that the NAACP voted to put distortions, lies and outdated ideologies about charter schools above what is in the best interest of our children. It is inexplicable to me that such a storied organization, responsible for leading a powerful civil rights movement to tear down barriers for generations of Black people, would erect new ones for our children.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten applauded the foregone conclusion:
When Al Shanker and others envisioned charter schools, they proposed teacher-led laboratories where educators and parents could explore and incubate ways to improve instruction. Charters were intended as part of—not a replacement for—the public school system. But some who promote and fund charters today have other designs, and the explosion of unaccountable charters has drained resources for children, forced the closing of neighborhood schools and destabilized districts and communities in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit.
Tellingly, Weingarten invokes the ghost of Al Shanker who famously said, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said:
The chorus of those of us who have been sounding the alarm on the many long-standing structural and governance problems that have plagued charters in recent years is growing. The time is right to pause and reassess.
The NAACP appointed a special taskforce to “lay the foundation for a national stakeholder convening” (read: “reassess”). The taskforce will be chaired by Alice Huffman who, among other things, serves on the Wells Fargo Company Advisory Committee. Taskforce members include Adora Obi Nweze, Chair of the NAACP Education Committee and past recipient of the Florida Education Association President’s Award.
For a lot of nonprofits, policy positions follow the money. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The nation’s two largest teachers unions contributed nearly $400,000 to the outfit between 2011 and 2015, and other labor unions are also financiers.
I have called out the NAACP for its “partnership” with predatory lender Wells Fargo. Now in obeisance to its AFT and NEA paymasters, it’s back to the bad old days when the NAACP was called the National Association for the Advancement of Certain People.
In the run-up to the National Board meeting, the New York Times chastised the NAACP for figuratively standing in the schoolhouse door:
These schools, which educate only about 7 percent of the nation’s students, are far from universally perfect, and those that are failing should be shut down. But sound research has shown that, when properly managed and overseen, well-run charter schools give families a desperately needed alternative to inadequate traditional schools in poor urban neighborhoods.
For many parents and students, a charter school is the only route to a superior education. In advocating a blanket moratorium on charters, the N.A.A.C.P. would fail to acknowledge what’s happening to children who need and deserve a way out of the broken schools to which they have been relegated.
The editorial noted the NAACP “has struggled in recent years to win over younger African-Americans, who often see the group as out of touch.” With this misguided policy, the struggle continues.