National Alliance Statement on the NAACP’s Education Report
Washington, D.C.—The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nina Rees has released the following statement in response to the NAACP’s education report:
“Charter school advocates are believers in the life-changing power of public education, and we believe there’s no single way to educate our nation’s public school students. We don’t believe every school needs to look like all the others, and we think it’s healthy for people who believe in public education to hold different points of view. We don’t think it’s productive, however, to stoke dissent where there’s fundamental agreement.
“We’re glad to see the NAACP acknowledge charter schools’ value. For a long time, charter school leaders have been saying much of what the NAACP is saying in its new education report. In too many places in America, public schools that serve students of color—district-run and charter schools—are inequitably and inadequately funded relative to schools serving more affluent, white students. That’s unfair. It limits students’ opportunities, it holds back our society, and it must change.
“We also agree with the NAACP that whoever oversees a public school should take that responsibility seriously, have the highest expectations and hold educators in the school accountable for doing their No. 1 job: educating students. For district schools, oversight responsibility lies with the school board, typically. Too many school boards have looked the other way while generations of students have been failed by low-performing public schools. For public charter schools, their authorizer could be a school board or another entity charged with ensuring quality and fiscal responsibility. In general, charter schools are held fully accountable by their authorizers and the families they serve.
“What the NAACP’s policy resolution and report both fail to acknowledge is that Black parents are demanding more and better public-school options. In a nationally representative survey, 82 percent of Black parents favored allowing parents to choose their child’s public school. The families of more than 800,000 Black students have chosen charter schools, which now serve a higher percentage of Black students than district schools do. Last fall, thousands of parents signed a letter to the NAACP that affirmed their support of public charter schools. Hundreds turned out at the various hearings the NAACP held over the last 10 months to develop their report. Unfortunately, few were allowed to speak.
“Public charter schools are working for Black students. The 2015 CREDO Urban Charter Schools Report on students in 41 urban regions across the country found that Black charter school students gained 36 days of learning in math and 26 in reading over their non-charter school peers. For Black students in poverty, gains were even more substantial: 59 days in math and 44 in reading.
“In communities where public schools have underserved families for generations, the best charter schools are showing something better is possible. The NAACP has always pushed for better, and we invite the organization to lock arms with us as believers in public education. Charter schools alone cannot right all wrongs in our nation’s education system, just as they should not be exclusively blamed for them. As the report says, quoting charter school leader Cristina de Jesus, ‘A bad school is our common enemy.’”