Charter school backers will weigh in before NAACP board vote

Travis Pillow
A debate over charter schools has split civil rights advocates. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue.

A debate over charter schools has split civil rights advocates. Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue.

Late last month, a host of charter school supporters — from former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige to school choice luminary Howard Fuller — wrote the NAACP asking to meet with its board before Saturday’s expected vote on a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools.

That meeting never happened.

Still, many of their allies plan to gather in Cincinnati to highlight the benefits of charter schools tomorrow morning. And they’ve invited NAACP board members to hear their case before they vote later in the day.

Charter school backers, many of whom align with the 107-year-old organization on issues outside of school choice, have launched a full-court press in response to a proposed resolution that would toughen the NAACP’s anti-charter stance, in what’s become a major front in a larger battle that has divided civil rights activists.

Other groups, including the Movement for Black Lives, have also staked out positions supporting a charter school moratorium. But many people in the school choice movement argue charter schools can expand educational opportunities for low-income children of color.

“As advocates for effective public schools we have a commitment to hold all schools accountable to successfully serve their students; this includes improving or closing failing traditional and charter schools, not halting high-quality schools’ expansion,” Rashad Turner, a St. Paul, Minn. Public Schools parent who recently stepped aside as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, said in a statement. “We would welcome the NAACP as a partner and hope to work side-by-side in support of effective public schools for all students.”

Turner plans to be part of the on-the-ground presence in Cincinnati, which is backed by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Ahead of the NAACP board’s vote, three national newspapers — the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal — have all inveighed against the pending resolution. Among other things, they cite research showing black students are among the groups most likely to see outsize learning gains after enrolling in charter schools.

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