Black Activists Clash on School Choice

Two prominent African American groups, namely the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement, have stood against school choice recently, claiming that charter schools serve as a “systemic attack” on communities of color.

According to Black Lives Matter’s education agenda, charters ought to be banned.

The group used its online medium to accuse some of the most powerful philanthropic backers of the charter school system, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, of running “an international education privatization agenda.” According to the group, “privatization strips Black people of the right to self-determine the kind of education their children receive.”

In order to “undermine Black democracy and self-determination,” Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives wrote, philanthropic figures allegedly use the charter school system to “disproportionately disrupt access to education in Black communities.”

But unlike the anti-school choice activists, another prominent African American organization is pushing back, urging the NAACP and Black Lives Matter to reconsider their position.

According to Jacqueline Cooper, the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), African American communities only gain from school choice.

“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,” she said in a statement. “The resolution is ill-conceived and based on lies and distortions about the work of charter schools.”

While Cooper admits that some of the issues raised by the NAACP should not be ignored, blaming all charter schools for the issues only a few go through is “counterproductive,” said Shavar Jeffries, the president of Democrats for Education Reform.

To the Democrat, “fixing what’s broken and expanding what works” is key to the empowerment of African American communities, not “pre-empting the choices of parents of color about the best schools appropriate for meeting the particular needs of their children.”

Traditionally, educators name low performance and widening achievement gaps for at-risk students as reasons to create new charter schools. Since these schools are created out of necessity within a community, their racial makeup often mirrors the communities they serve, giving children of color the opportunity to engage in a more participative educational method, studying with teachers who must succeed in order to remain employed.

The results are eye-popping.

According to PublicCharters.org, charter schools enroll a greater amount of low-income students than traditional schools do. Data also shows that 27 percent of charter school students are children of color, while only 15 percent of the students in traditional schools are either black or Latino.

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