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Black Lives Matter, NAACP Call for Moratorium on Charter Schools is “Inexplicable”

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Indeed, paying attention to data and facts is important. But when data and facts are one-sided and lack the bigger picture, it does an injustice to those trying to become educated about an issue.

When it comes to charter schools, there’s still much work to be done when it comes to getting out the facts and truly educating the public.

Take the Black Lives Matter and the NAACP call for a moratorium on charter schools, for example.

“Can’t understand why the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Movement for Black Lives have issued proclamations opposing the expansion of school choice and Parent Power for the very black families for which they proclaim to care?,” writes RiShawn Biddle of Dropout Nation. “The answer can be found in the annual financial statements of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions.”

Black leaders nationwide are pushing back against moratoriums and proclamations against charter school expansion.

“The fact that the NAACP wants a national moratorium on charter schools, many of which offer a high-quality education to low-income and working-class black children, is inexplicable,” Jaqueline Cooper, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options told the Washington Examiner.

Data reveals black students in public charter schools gain an equivalent of 36 learning days a year in math and 26 in reading respectively. And the learning gains are even higher for poor minority students.

In Massachusetts, where there’s a debate about expanding charter school learning opportunities to meet the demand of more than 32,000 on wait lists, charter schools have been an important part of education, offering choice and opportunity for children especially in low-income areas. Massachusetts charter schools are among the highest performing in the nation, and serve 31 percent more Black and Latino students compared to traditional schools statewide. According to new data from Boston charter high schools, 98 percent of graduates are accepted to college.

That should make people who are concerned about race and equality want to support charter school expansion, as a gateway to improved opportunity. Yet despite this, the New England Area Council of the NAACP opposes permitting more charter schools in Massachusetts, 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 and beyond, 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.

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