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Those concerned about race and equality should champion charters

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Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 9.47.22 AMBoston Globe
April 6, 2016

 
RE “Racial aspects tinge charter debate” (Page A1, March 28): Massachusetts charter schools are not only among the highest performing in the nation, but they serve a student population that’s 58 percent black and Latino, while statewide that figure is 27 percent.

That should make people who are concerned about race and equality want to support charter school expansion, as a gateway to improved opportunity. Yet you report that the New England Area Council of the NAACP opposes permitting more charter schools, even while the African-American community votes with its feet in overwhelmingly choosing them for their kids.

It’s precisely because the traditional civil rights groups oppose structural change to traditional public schooling that new organizations such as the Black Alliance for Educational Options were born. Meanwhile, African-American lawmakers and celebrities have advocated for charters and started their own, from former NBA star Jalen Rose, who started one in Detroit, to singer John Legend supporting Harlem Village Academies and writing a song in honor of the school’s first graduating class. It was black Democratic representatives who brought expansive charter school laws to states including Florida, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

If there is to be any focus on race and charter schools in Massachusetts, it should be because charter schools are helping to serve children historically underserved by our nation’s education system, and putting power in the hands of parents who otherwise do not have access to a better education option for their children.

Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO
Center for Education Reform, Washington, D.C.

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