One of the few education reforms that has actually succeeded in helping African-American students get a better education is school choice, especially the growth of public charter schools. So it didn't make much sense, to put it kindly, when the NAACP approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools.
But don't take it from me, take it from African-American leaders across the country.
Jacqueline Cooper, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, told the Washington Examiner that the moratorium was "inexplicable."
"The fact that the NAACP wants a national moratorium on charter schools, many of which offer a high-quality education to low-income and working-class black children, is inexplicable," Cooper said. "The resolution is ill-conceived and based on lies and distortions about the work of charter schools. At their next meeting, we urge the board to reject this resolution and protect parental choice."
The call for a moratorium won't become official policy until the next NAACP national board meeting.
Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform, also criticized the NAACP in a statement. "The public charter school moratorium put forward at this year's NAACP convention does a disservice to communities of color," Jeffries said.
"This moratorium would contravene the NAACP's historic legacy as a champion for expanding opportunity for families of color. In communities of color throughout our country, public charter schools are providing pathways to college and careers that previously were not available."
Jeffries added that the NAACP seemed to be unjustly attacking charter schools while turning a blind eye to bad traditional public schools.
"Indiscriminately targeting all charter schools, even the many great public charter schools that are offering students a bridge to college, while ignoring underperforming district schools, undermines the quality and integrity of our entire education system ... We'd be happy to partner with the NAACP to sanction or shut down low-performing charter schools. We'd oppose with the same resolve as the NAACP any charter that seems designed more by a desire to segregate than to innovate."
Steve Perry, founder and head of Capital Preparatory Schools, went on NewsOne Now to criticize the national NAACP. "They couldn't be more out of touch if they ran full speed in the other direction," Perry said. He said the national group is "out of touch even with their own chapters ... This is more proof that the NAACP has been mortgaged by the teachers union and they keep paying y'all to say what they want to say."
According to a report released in January by the Black Alliance for Educational Options, black students in public charter schools learn the equivalent of 36 extra school days per year in math and 26 extra school days in reading. The gains are even higher for black students living in poverty.
Charter schools are publicly funded and do not charge tuition. Compared to traditional public schools, charters have more independence and flexibility in their operations and curricula, which is why many families find charters desirable. They are open to all students, but they often don't have enough space to meet demand. In that case, they use a random lottery system to determine admission.
Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.