By Kelly Amis
If you've had or have a child in a charter school, or otherwise support them, you might consider calling the NAACP today to tell them you oppose the moratorium on charter schools that they are considering this Saturday. The number is 202-759-6227.
I'm sure our TEACHED friends and supporters represent many different views on charter schools, but for those of you who have seen the positive systemic change they can bring about (as in Washington, DC), or who have seen a child's or entire family's lives changed from having more choices than their assigned neighborhood schools, please consider calling the NAACP to say so.
There are political reasons the NAACP is considering this moratorium, and of course they're correct that there are some terrible charter schools that have been allowed to open and stay open (mostly in states where the oversight/laws are awful), but overall the creation of these innovative, independent public schools has benefitted African American students. From last year's CREDO report:
"Learning gains for charter school students are larger by significant amounts for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and special education students in both math and reading." (Read the full report here).
I personally thank the universe that I was able to help get several students I care about to sign up for and transfer to great charter schools years ago, including my "l'il girl" Janae (who is now in college and turns 22 tomorrow!) and her cousin, my "little buddy" Malik, for whom the switch to a charter school was truly transformative.
There are problems in some cities and states with some charter schools that need to be improved or closed, but calling for a national moratorium on all charter school growth makes no sense at all. Many charter schools are providing an excellent education (tuition-free of course) to students who have long been treated like second-class citizens by our traditional "one-size-fits-all" system.
When something is working well, and providing better, more effective opportunities for African-American students, we should expand and improve on those options, not shut off the pipeline.
We interviewed four successful charter school founders from DC, NY and L.A. for our short film Unchartered Territory (click to watch on Vimeo-on-Demand).