I’ve heard it all before…and hearing it now still doesn’t change the idea that racism has been exploited to block educational reform.
Randi Weingarten’s recent claim that the charter school movement drives segregation and is built on racism is almost like saying that Brown vs. the Board of Education didn’t happen because of the same antics happening in traditional public schools. Racism is often used as a way to generate buzz and to keep people from working together. Its misuse perpetuates an us vs. them mentality, instead of building trust through collaboration and change through compromise.
I’m a long time supporter and member of the NAACP. I believe in the mission, the legacy and those committed to on the ground work. I am also a charter school leader and board chairman.
I would challenge the NAACP and those persons with beliefs such as Randi Weingarten to look at how insinuating that charter school leaders and advocates are racist goes against what the movement stands for and has done. How can NAACP leaders advocate for magnet schools—which are programs in public schools that operate similar to charter schools—and deny children and families charter school options? These programs give families a choice.
As an advocate, I can’t stand for taking school choice away from any family. Families should have a choice to where they send their children. Charter schools give families a choice. Virtual schools give families a choice. Alternative schools give families a choice.
We have to stop suppressing innovation and options for others to find academic success. We have to also work even harder to find a healthy balance and positive relationship between traditional public and charter schools. We have to be intentional about how we bridge this gap. It’s like a co-parenting situation; in order for the child to truly be healthy and happy the parents have to come to a mutual understanding and respect for each other.
Maybe if we can get past exploiting racism to obtain personal and one-side agendas, then we can successfully implement reformative changes to the educational system. No one has the perfect fix to education; however, we all have best practices that if connected can help repair the broken design for this educational system. That’s the impact of reform.
Tactics that continue to divide us, keep us from providing our children with the quality education and environment that they deserve.