"When schools get it right, whether they're traditional public schools or public charter schools, let's figure out what's working and share it with schools across America. Rather than starting from ideology, let's start from what's best for our kids."
--Hillary Clinton, 2016
It should be noted that Hillary Clinton was booed for saying that. Maybe because of the venue: She blasphemed at the National Education Association's convention in the summer of 2016. Nothing seems to get the boo-birds out like talking up charter schools at education conventions.
No matter what benefits charter schools might provide children attending them, the education establishment will find a way to oppose them. Any excuse will do. Why? Because charter schools don't have to abide by the suffocating rules the establishment puts on other public schools. And may perform better.
That, and the establishment thinks of every dollar going to charter schools as one lost dollar to the empire. (No matter that every child going to a charter is one fewer child to educate in the traditional schools.) When it comes to money and education, the empire strikes back.
It's especially disheartening when certain leaders in the community back teachers' unions rather than those families trying to escape failing schools. Teachers' unions are consolidated, united, their money pooled. Families rarely are--thus are at a disadvantage.
The last time we heard about the NAACP commenting on charter schools, it wasn't good. That organization was agin charters, and even demanded a moratorium on new ones. Even though for so long that outfit was an important and progressive force in America--progressive in the bygone way of speaking, that is, clearly.
But the other day, the clouds parted. If not the sea. And three chapters of the NAACP on the west coast questioned its national leadership. Who says these aren't the days of miracles and wonder?
This spring, chapters of the NAACP in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino called on the national association to drop its opposition to new charter schools. It should be noted, as it was by the San Diego papers, that these three chapters represent precincts with high populations of African Americans.
Why, of course. Just look around more exotic locations, like Arkansas, and you'll see charter outfits trying--trying their best--to serve black communities. And black parents are welcoming them at every turn. You should see the waiting list for these schools. If black, and not only black, politicians wouldn't stand in the way, there could be more charters serving more kids.
The resolution from the San Diego NAACP says that public charter schools out west "achieve academic outcomes exceeding their peers in district-run schools." That happens often. Not always, but often enough that it makes sense to allow for more charters, to see which ones have the best ideas. And then copy those ideas. But should one of these schools not live up to its charter, it can be shut down. Which is another advantage charters have over traditional public schools.
From The Times of San Diego: "A 2015 Stanford University study, which examined 41 urban regions in America, found that low-income African American students in urban charter schools had higher achievement in math and reading than their peers in traditional public schools. The Stanford researchers found, 'Black students in poverty [in charter schools] receive the equivalent of 59 days of additional learning in math and 44 days of additional learning in reading compared to their peers in" traditional public schools.
This story has a bizarre twist, even more bizarre than adults in public service blocking better education choices for children: A professor at Sacramento State University, who's also a NAACP bigwig in California, has accused individual branches of the NAACP of being paid by the California Charter Schools Association. If that doesn't sink your boat! Who's doing what for monetary reasons? Kettle, meet pot.
"This isn't the first time that the charters schools association--and I'm sure it won't be the last--is trying different strategies to influence this debate inside our organization," Professor Vasquez Heilig told the press. "But bottom line, the NAACP is a democratic organization, and there's a long democratic process by which all the resolutions go through."
Oh, we're sure of that. And the longer the better. That's not a strategy restricted to California. Whenever those losing the fight against charters in Arkansas find themselves in a tight spot, they settled for "slowing down the process," until it can be studied another year. Or another generation.
For some of us, it seems the best way to study charter schools is to let them operate. And compare results.
Considering the waiting lists for these charter schools, a lot of parents agree.
Editorial on 05/15/2019
Print Headline: Beyond theoretical