Black leaders push back on NAACP anti-charter school resolution

Travis Pillow

More than 160 black educators and charter school advocates are calling on the NAACP to rethink a proposed resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools.

The anti-charter document sent shockwaves through education reform circles when it first made the rounds this summer. But it won’t become official policy for the 107-year-old civil rights organization unless it gets approved at a board meeting next month.

Before the resolution becomes final, a host of prominent black education leaders want a chance to discuss charter schools with NAACP leaders. In a letter to the organization’s board members, circulated by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, they write: 

The proposed resolution cites a variety of cherry-picked and debunked claims about charter schools. The notion of dedicated charter school founders and educators acting like predatory subprime mortgage lenders—a comparison the resolution explicitly makes—is a far cry from the truth. In reality, charter schools generally receive less per-pupil funding than traditional district public schools and often receive little or no funding to purchase buildings or maintain classrooms. Despite these hurdles, charter schools are helping students achieve at higher levels than traditional district schools.

Notable signers of the letter include Cheryl Brown Henderson (whose father was the lead plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education), BAEO Chairman Emeritus Howard Fuller and United Negro College Fund CEO Michael Lomax.

While the NAACP has been critical of charter schools in the past — and split with some of its supporters on other school choice issues — the proposed resolution contains some of its strongest anti-charter language to date. It raises concerns over issues from segregation and discipline disparities to “fiscal mismanagement.” Backers of the resolution say they want to stop the growth of charters to “pause and investigate” those issues.

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