NAACP's proposed charter ban will hurt students who need choice the most

by Cheryl Kirk

The NAACP has been a champion for African Americans for over a hundred years. The contribution it has made to the advancement of African Americans is nothing short of amazing, which is why I was shocked when I read an article stating that the NAACP was calling for a national moratorium on charter schools.

While I am aware that some charters schools are not meeting educational standards, many are offering a quality education that students, particularly African American, poor and minority students, would not have access to otherwise. A local charter school in Indianapolis, Tindley Accelerated Academy, outperforms local public schools that serve the same population.

There are also some public schools in the Indianapolis Public School District that were taken over by the state due to a long history of low performance. Taking away school options denies the children who were assigned to these schools access to a quality education.

If we put a moratorium on charter schools, what’s next? A moratorium on new families receiving vouchers for their children to attend private schools? We would be taking a step backwards for the people who need it the most, those whose schools and communities have been forgotten.  

Parents of children who have been undereducated for years will no longer have a choice in what type of education their children receive. Children who are fully capable of learning will once again be told that because of where they live, the color of their skin, and their circumstances, they will not receive a quality education.

If low-performing urban public schools were improving and parents had access to schools that would ensure that their children are prepared to be productive members of society, filtering children back into a quality education system would be great.

The truth is, however, that the system is still as broken as it was when school choice started and the first charter schools were opened. There are people that still believe that poor and minority children are incapable of learning at the same level as their white, privileged peers.

School choice is not about tearing down public schools. It is about refusing to accept that a student’s income, race, or zip code makes them incapable of learning and therefore undeserving of a quality education.

The NAACP needs to take a look at the direct impact that limiting school choice will have on the future of African American children in this country.

Photo courtesy of Tindley Accelerated Schools