NAACP calls for halt to privately managed charter schools. Will that hurt or help kids?

A school choice supporter holds a sign at a rally at the state Capitol. TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.com

David Mitchell is founder, CEO and president of Better Outcomes for Our Kids or BOOK. A new Atlanta-based nonprofit, BOOK seeks to educate the African-American community about school choice options, including traditional public schools, public charters, virtual schools, home schools and vouchers.

In this piece, Mitchell criticizes a recent resolution passed by the membership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calling for a moratorium on privately managed charter schools. The resolution, which has to be approved by the NAACP board in the fall, expresses concern over discipline, increased segregation and financial mismanagement in such charter schools.

A similar resolution was approved by the Movement for Black Lives.

Georgia has a mix of charter schools, including some overseen by school districts. However, the growth nationwide is among privately managed charter schools. Many critics consider private charter management a back door attempt to privatize public schools.

“The denial of quality education has long been used to oppress people of color and we shall not be fooled into believing that privately run corporations will use taxpayer money to provide all with a quality education when it goes against their bottom line. The NAACP shall not be swayed by those in the black community that have been bought by charter corporations to peddle their toxic brand of school choice,” said Denisha Jones, a board member of the national Badass Teachers group and a professor of education at Trinity Washington University.

With that background, here is Mitchell’s essay opposing the NAACP resolution.

By David Mitchell

I must admit, I was somewhat confused after hearing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is seriously considering passing a resolution to ban any new nonprofit-managed, public charter schools.

When I read it I thought to myself, “This has to be a mistake!” I have been trying to wrap my head around what this means for the “advancement of young colored people” in America, as it relates to public education. The school choice movement was born to allow innovation, flexibility, accountability, and community involvement in our public schools.  This sounds like a movement that the NAACP would have founded itself.

So I ask myself, “How is the NAACP missing the point when it comes to school choice?”

In 2012, my wife and I found ourselves in a quandary when our twins finished Pre-K. When we visited our zoned school, a traditional public school in our neighborhood, we found challenges on every level. The campus was “falling apart,” and the school ranked near the bottom of all public schools in Georgia. After that visit, I realized I had no idea what my options were, but had two, young “colored people” counting on me to “advance” their education.

Through a chance meeting between my wife and a community leader recruiting board members for a public charter school in our neighborhood, my wife was able to tour a school that was actually closer to our home than our zoned school. After the visit, she took an appointment on the board, which gave my two little “colored people” automatic admittance.  This option has changed the direction of my children’s educational future, in ways that cannot be measured. I honor the mission of the NAACP, but I believe charter schools were birthed from the outcries of parents wanting more choices and better options for their children. This alone is enough of a reason to give serious consideration to not pass a regressive resolution to ban new public charter schools.

During the 2014-2015 school year, there were 83,277 Georgia students enrolled in charter schools. Roughly 40 percent of students enrolled in charter schools are black, 40 percent  are white, 10 percent  are Latino, and 3 percent are Asian. Clearly, parents want school options for their children.

For the 2014-15 school year, there were an estimated 9,083 students on waiting lists throughout Georgia for a charter slot. Given that 53 percent  of Georgia students attending public charter schools are “young colored people,” what is the NAACP saying to these families seeking better outcomes for their kids?

We can all agree that ultimately “the ball has been dropped.” But eliminating options, and telling families and communities to be comfortable with status quo, is definitely not the answer.

There is no conspiracy to privatize public education, but I do believe there is an aggressive plan to help those schools that need help and put programs in place to guarantee successful outcomes for all public schools. I believe with the right environment, all children can learn based on their God-given abilities and gifts, and Better Outcomes for Our Kids was founded on that premise. BOOK believes we have fallen victim to being spectators instead of the spark that invigorates, educates, and advocates for our young “colored people” when it comes to public education.

BOOK is proud to have the support of Ambassador Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta and chief of staff for Dr. Martin Luther King. “Until public schools are able to deal with all of the diversity of our population, we need public charter schools to give special opportunities for children who need individual attention and approaches, and I’m not talking about rich children,” said Young.

While I support what the NAACP stands for and what it has meant to the African-American experience, maybe the resolution should focus on helping families and communities become more involved in our public schools rather than eliminating options. When it comes to public charter schools and school choice, it seems the NAACP has missed an opportunity.

 

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Again, something I have attempted to post multiple times is not showing up.  Is there a problem?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

From Diane Ravitch’s Blog:

OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL

1.

When Freedom flung her banner high

In triumph o’re the land

‘Twas like a rainbow in the sky

A pledge by heroes planned:

Fair Wisdom’s form came then in view

That all might learn in lessons true

The creed of Liberty

Hail, hail, hail our fortress strong

Hail, hail, hail the foe of wrong.

Bright, bright, bright beam thy beacon light

God bless the public school.

2.

The tyrant’s power melt away

When Truth and Right appear

No more Ignorance obey

The dictates of her fear

For knowledge elevates mankind

Makes clear the golden rule

And gives the blessings that we find

Within the public school.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

well written.  Sad that the NAACP has fallen under the spell of the eduacracy, who professes to be "for the children", but instead is all about controlling the money to benefit the head office adults.


It's long past time to quit consigning poor kids to awful schools, just because their mothers can't afford a better apartment.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

"After the visit, she took an appointment on the board, which gave my two little “colored people” automatic admittance. " 


Gee, what a surprise that you want a private style school(paid for with public tax dollars) that only admits certain (I suppose desirable in your eyes) little people. I understand the grasping nature of the human condition - especially when it comes to our offspring, but please don't cloak your desire for less undesirables in school with your children as a boon to all "colored" people.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian


You're a bigot.These kids deserve a good education no matter their background.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@AvgGeorgian Much better to make sure "colored people" are stuck in awful failing local public schools.  After all, cant' have them actually getting ahead.


No, must make sure they are forever stuck on "govt assistance", so they vote the right way forever.

Tom Green
Tom Green

Mr. Mitchell can't read. The resolution is against private charter (for profit) schools, not public charter schools.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

"For profit, private, and/or charter schools"  is the specific language.  Mr. Mitchell read it exactly right.  The NAACP opposes anything not controlled by the local school board.

daks
daks

Donald Trump makes an excellent point when he asks blacks what they have to lose by trying a new approach.

What exactly have decades of Democrat rule and NAACP influence in the inner city netted black families?

Certainly not quality schools or any reasonable hope of them.

Astropig
Astropig

@EdJohnson


All this proves is that Democrat education policy is dictated by clowns and comedians.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson


What I noticed immediately was that the students in the KIPP Charter Schools were packed in like sardines, similar to how commercial airlines pack their passengers into their airplanes.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

Wonderful piece showing the lack of oversight and precarious nature of the privately-managed charter school industry. It used to be that their opponents would call for more charters because they declared them to be the answer to the failures of the public schools (low test scores). Now that almost every study shows that most charter schools do not improve educational outcomes for their students the paradigm shift is from improvement to choice. We do know that those who favor passing our charter schools to a private management company, whose first priority is making as much profit as they can wring out of the system , cares little about the students and their daily struggles in life. I am paraphrasing the great Noam Chomsky when he says that you first weaken a system by underfunding it, then put systems in place to highlight failure and then, finally, offer the solution to the problem you created that will make you rich.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Here’s something the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and many African Americans and other sufficiently-informed folks understand, thank God, but apparently something Mitchell, BOOK, African Americans involved with BOOK, and various self-serving, instant-gratification interests do not understand or simply do not care to understand:

“The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing Mississippi over how it is funding charter schools, describing it as a unconstitutional scheme that diverts public tax dollars from traditional public schools. …

“Two charter schools are operating in Mississippi, both within the boundaries of the Jackson Public School District. In one school year, more than $1.85 million was diverted from the district to fund them. That amount could have paid the salaries of 42 public school teachers, according to the complaint. Given that a third charter school is set to open within JPS’s geographic boundaries, the district stands to lose more than $4 million in the 2016-17 school year, according to the complaint.”

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/07/12/mississippi-charter-school-lawsuit/86984366/

And, as sufficiently-informed folks know: There is no such thing as “public charter schools.”  The term is oxymoronic, inherently.

Astropig
Astropig

@EdJohnson


All charter schools are public schools.You just don't like them because they'll get children of color off your plantation.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

@EdJohnson 


Ed, since you mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center, I will add that I am very disappointed that Maureen has never covered the SPLC's report "The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation's Schools":
https://www.splcenter.org/20160413/trump-effect-impact-presidential-campaign-our-nations-schools

The SPLC released that back on April 13.  I just scrolled back thru 10 pages of "Get Schooled" topics and saw 4 blogs about Trump stuff, but none were about the SPLC's report.  Sad!

CSpinks
CSpinks

Where is the NAACP's concern about lack of equal opportunities for our Black kids who are enrolled in public schools characterized by poor discipline, increased segregation, financial mismanagement, lax standards and self-serving educrats?

Chanda RobertsWhite
Chanda RobertsWhite

If the state will giv a "pass" on several rules and policies to private industry, why not give these waivers to the struggling school? Why wait until the school is struggling, then allow someone with a business plan to come in and try to make it better. This is nothing more than funneling taxpayer money to businesses in the form of corporate welfare. Vote "no"

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My erudite, carefully-considered, well-written post has disappeared.

Babycat
Babycat

Shame on David Mitchell for using the term "colored people"!  Doesn't he know how derogatory that is?  The GMA host is getting skewered for using that term but my guess is that he won't.  The difference, he is black and the GMA host is white.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Babycat They are his kids.  Who are you to judge whether he calls them colored people?  


Quit being so intolerant and judgmental.

Astropig
Astropig

Mr. Mitchell is right. Pure and simple,he is 100% spot-on. His essay sort of condenses the school choices debate to its very essence-Parents that want options for their kids most important life activity are opposed by a selfish status quo.

Patti Puckett Ghezzi
Patti Puckett Ghezzi

I agree w. the NAACP. No privately managed charter schools. Nonprofit organizations or grassroots community boards. Those organizations and boards may want to contract with private vendors for some operations, but the charter school should be driven by people invested in that particular community's children.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

xxxzzz 5ptsFeatured
4 minutes ago

"For profit, private, and/or charter schools"  is the specific language.  Mr. Mitchell read it exactly right.  The NAACP opposes anything not controlled by the local school board.Edit (in 1 minute) I'm repeating this because Ghezzi's post also mis-states the NAACP proposal.  They don't want any charter schools.  They oppose those run by "non-profit organizations and grassroots community boards" as well as those run by for profit groups.