Shavar Jeffries on the NAACP’s Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Charter Schools

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

August 3, 2016




Statement from DFER President Shavar Jeffries on the NAACP’s Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Charter Schools

Today, in response to the NAACP approving a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools at its National Convention, DFER President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement:

“The public charter school moratorium put forward at this year’s NAACP convention does a disservice to communities of color, particularly the parents and caregivers who seek the best school options available to prepare their children for the demands of the 21st century. 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. 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 should be fixing what’s broken and expanding what works, not pre-empting the choices of parents of color about the best schools appropriate for meeting the particular needs of their children.

“To be sure, as with any government program involving many providers, there are some public charter schools that perform quite poorly, just as there are a dramatically larger number of traditional public schools that under-perform. 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. And we’d, likewise, be happy to work with the NAACP to sanction or shut down low-performing or segregative traditional schools. But let’s be clear about one thing: the research clearly shows that as a whole, Black children benefit greatly – in terms of academic achievement and college enrollment – from attending high-quality public charter schools.

“It is also true that some states have poor authorization and oversight policies concerning public charters, just as many states have failed to properly intervene in low-performing traditional schools, often for decades. We can and should work together to crack down on poor-performing charter authorizers wherever they exist, for example in Arizona and Texas. But we also can and should work together to expand access to high-performing charters with long waiting lists predominantly filled by parents and families of color in states like Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee and cities including Boston, D.C., Newark, and San Francisco.

“Across the country, particularly in our urban communities, public charter schools are a beacon of hope that empower parents and families with greater control over their child’s future. To continue to provide students with the public education they deserve and preserve their fundamental civil rights, we strongly urge the NAACP’s National Board of Directors not to approve the resolution come October. We are committed to working with the membership of the NAACP, other allies in the civil rights community, and fellow education advocates to expand quality public school choice for every child in every neighborhood. We must continue to build upon President Obama’s progressive education reform legacy and historic investment in charter schools, and we cannot allow for setbacks after all the progress we’ve made. Our children’s futures depend on it.”

For more from Shavar, watch him discuss the NAACP resolution on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin: