Civil Rights Leaders and Black Families Speak Out as NAACP Anti-Charter Vote Sparks National Conversation About State of Public Education in Black America

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is at odds with hundreds of education advocates and civil rights leaders who support more and better choices for families. Parents, education leaders will host a Meet & Greet on Saturday October 15th to talk about how charters are serving Black students.

The NAACP's decision this summer to call for a national moratorium on charter public schools has opened a much-needed dialogue among education and civil rights leaders, parents, and community leaders about how public education is serving Black students and revealed a divide among civil rights and education leaders.

Hundreds of community leaders and families have joined the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) since the late July decision to speak up in support of charter public schools. These leaders are calling for the NAACP to listen to parents who want high-quality charter schools in their communities and to reconsider their moratorium.

While the NAACP's 63-member board will meet in Cincinnati to likely ratify the anti-charter resolution made earlier this summer, the decision has already turned into a call to action for advocates hoping to engage the NAACP and unite around public education solutions that are working for Black students.

In calling for the moratorium, the NAACP has demonstrated that is it does not share the viewpoint of many other civil rights groups, including National Urban League and National Council of La Raza, who support charter schools, nor of more than one million Black families who have voted with their feet to send their kids to public charter schools.

In September, 160 Black leaders sent a letter to the NAACP urging the organization to reconsider a moratorium and learn more about how charter schools are helping Black families. Black charter school families from New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington state also penned a letter to the NAACP, expressing their stance on charter schools as a critical component to student success. Their ChartersWork petition attracted more than 2,000 signatures from parents from across the country in a matter of days. These families have taken action to alert the NAACP that the organization's resolution does not reflect the vast support from civil rights leaders, students and parents for more and better school choice.

"For generations the NAACP has been at the forefront of the fight for political, educational, social and economic equality for Black Americans," said Dr. Howard Fuller, founder and chair Emeritus of BAEO, and former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. "But when we have tens of thousands of Black families choosing charter schools, a moratorium to take that choice away is a step in the wrong direction. In many communities, these families would not have access to effective schools without charter schools."

"The backlash against the NAACP resolution has sparked much-needed conversations about the state of public education and how our public schools serve children of color," said Ron Rice, senior director of government affairs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "The NAACP is right to point out the failures in public education that exist in both sectors--district and charter. However, the NAACP has glossed over critical evidence that shows that charter schools not only work for children of color, they outperform district schools."

Stanford University's recent CREDO study found that Black charter school students gained thirty-six extra days of learning in reading and twenty-six extra days of learning in math compared to their African American peers in non-charter public schools.

"The NAACP has opened an important conversation, rightly highlighting concerns about the continued failure of the public education system, and we share their concern. But they have misidentified the culprits. With one million names on waitlists for charter public schools, we should be encouraging their growth," said Rashad Turner, former Black Lives Matter leader, St. Paul Public Schools parent, and charter school advocate. "As advocates for effective public schools we have a commitment to hold all schools accountable to successfully serve their students; this includes improving or closing failing traditional and charter schools, not halting high-quality schools' expansion. We would welcome the NAACP as a partner and hope to work side-by-side in support of effective public schools for all students."

Civil rights, education leaders and parents will gather in Cincinnati on Saturday October 15th for a Meet & Greet breakfast to discuss the role of charter schools in public education and how charter schools are working for Black students. Attendees will highlight what having a high quality public school choice means for their families and communities.