Strauss featured this piece in the same column by Jitu Brown, who as the national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance and a long-time public education advocate supports the NAACP moratorium on charters :
But these privatization supporters speak about the virtues of charters while failing to address how they have increased segregation, sometimes cherry-picked students, taken funding away from underfunded traditional systems, and operated in secrecy. They do not constitute the entire civil rights movement. Indeed, if the privatization movement were serious about civil rights, then its supporters would stand with the tens of thousands of parents and students across the country who have protested, been arrested, and used other methods of peaceful resistance to the closings of neighborhood schools, sometimes to make room for new charters.
I stated in an October letter to the New York Times that we at the Journey for Justice Alliance are not anti-charter ideologues. Many of our members send their children to both traditional public and charter schools. We applaud charters that are truly centers of innovation and believe we should learn from them. Unfortunately, far too many are, in the words of esteemed scholar Charles Payne from the University of Chicago, “mediocre interventions that are only accepted because of the race of the children served.”
We called for a moratorium on school privatization because of the realities on the ground. They include:
- Most charter operators can find a way to get rid of students they don’t want, yet most of these schools don’t perform any better — at least when it comes to student standardized test scores — than traditional public schools.
- Charters, as a component of the school privatization movement, have contributed to the national decline in the number of black teachers. One 2015 study looked at nine cities impacted by charter expansion — Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. — and found a decline in the number of black teachers in recent years.
- Charters, which overwhelmingly serve black and Latino children, have increased segregation.
- The privatization movement uses deceptive language when promoting the growth of charter expansion. The notion of “parents voting with their feet” is often false. Look at what happened to Dyett High School in Chicago. In 2008, Dyett had the largest increase among high schools of students going to college in Chicago and the largest decrease in arrests and suspensions. In 2011, it won the ESPN RISE UP Award, outperforming hundreds of schools across the country and winning a $4 million renovation to its athletic facilities. The next year, Chicago Public Schools voted to phase out Dyett and open new charter schools. The district starved the school of resources, eliminated effective programs and encouraged students to transfer. By 2015, the enrollment plummeted to 13 students. I see that as sabotage, not “voting with your feet.” After I and 11 other parents waged a 34-day hunger strike in 2015 to save Dyett, it opened as a neighborhood school this year with a full freshman class and a waiting list.
The biggest failure of the American education system is deep, entrenched inequity. In many places, black and brown children are not valued as much as their white counterparts. We want the choice of world class, sustainable neighborhood schools to anchor our communities, just as white brothers and sisters enjoy.
Read full article here.
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