Issues

NAACP denies education civil rights

The real discrimination taking place is taking education choice away from black parents and forcing black children to remain in failing schools.

temp-post-image

It's a rare day when the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post are of one mind.

But it just happened. Each of these newspapers, with the largest circulations in the country, and with views on the right and the left, weighed in with unanimity, criticizing the recent resolution of the NAACP calling for a moratorium on expansion of charter schools.

The NAACP wants to freeze expansion of charter schools until, according to the resolution, they meet the same "transparency and accountability standards as public schools," no longer compete for the same public funds as public schools, don't reject students that public schools accept, and that evidence of segregation is no longer evident.

It is disappointing that the NAACP, which defines itself as a civil rights organization, wants to deny a right as fundamental as parents determining how and where to educate their children. But although disappointing, it not surprising.

It is not just charter schools that NAACP opposes, but all alternatives to public schools.

This new resolution notes that it is an extension of NAACP's 2014 resolution "School Privatization Threat to Public Education," in which NAACP opposes school choice and markets and competition in education.

NAACP has supported lawsuits challenging voucher programs that are funded via tax credits to businesses that contribute funding for vouchers. So NAACP's opposition to charters is really not about, as they claim, their concern about siphoning taxpayer funds from public schools.

It is about opposition to competition in education, to competition to public schools, and competition to teacher unions.

Arguments that charters and other competitive alternatives to public schools siphon funds away from public schools that are critical for their success are simply bogus.

As Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute points out, "Since World War II, inflation-adjusted spending in American public schools has increased 663 percent." Yet despite this, "public school national math scores have been flat (and national reading scores have declined slightly) since 1992."

Where's the money going?

According to Robinson, much of the money is going to hiring more teachers and bureaucracy. From 1950 to 2009, the number of teachers increased 2.5 times more than the increase in students, and the number of administrators and other staff increased seven times more than the increase in students.

So it comes as little surprise that teachers unions share NAACP's distaste for competition in education. Or that the two major teachers unions, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, have been generous contributors to both the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.

One hundred and sixty black education leaders across the nation, including former education secretary Rod Paige, wrote to the NAACP urging that they not approve this resolution.

The letter states that these leaders write on behalf of "nearly 700,000 Black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists."

The letter cites a recent study from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes that concluded that black students in charter schools gained the equivalent of 14 extra days in learning in both reading and math, compared to their peers in traditional public schools.

The real discrimination that is taking place is taking education choice away from black parents and forcing black children to remain in failing schools that are disproportionately populated by black children from poor families.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that despite an increase in earnings of black workers exceeding that of white and Latino workers since the recession ended in 2009, median weekly pay for blacks still lags significantly, $685 compared to $854 for whites.

Education makes all the difference. Blacks need education freedom, and it is sad that the organization that claims to stand for civil rights opposes this.