The NAACP vs. Minority Children

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The outfit takes orders from its union backers to oppose charter schools.

Aug. 26, 2016 6:04 p.m. ET
294 COMMENTS
Interest groups tend to care more about money and influence than the people they represent, but some sellouts deserve special attention. Here’s one: The outfit that helped end segregation in public education now works to trap poor and minority kids in dysfunctional schools.

Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, at the annual convention on July 18 in Cincinnati, Ohio. ENLARGE
Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP, at the annual convention on July 18 in Cincinnati, Ohio. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Last month the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People introduced a resolution at its national convention in Cincinnati calling for a moratorium on charter schools, which are public but free from union rules and control. The measure also says the NAACP “will continue to advocate against any state or Federal legislation” that “commits or diverts public funding” to private or charter schools. The resolution must be formally adopted at a board meeting later this year.

Some 28% of charter-school students are black, which is almost double the figure for traditional public schools. A report last year from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that across 41 urban areas black students in charters gained on average 36 extra days in math learning a year and 26 in reading while Hispanic students gained 22 in math and six in reading. Black students in poverty notched 59 more days in math. This is the definition of “advancement.”
The NAACP didn’t bother to ask black parents what they think: A 2013 poll of black voters in four southern states by the Black Alliance for Educational Options found that at least 85% agreed that “government should provide parents with as many choices as possible.” No less than half in every state supported charter schools. Another sign of support is the hundreds of thousands of black students nationwide who sign up for lotteries for a seat at a charter.

The NAACP complains about charter schools’ “disproportionately high use of punitive and exclusionary discipline,” and so do its friends at Black Lives Matter. This is bogus: An American Enterprise Institute report this month matched each charter school’s suspension rate with data for the five nearest traditional schools. More than 50% of charter schools suspended students at rates similar to neighbors, and almost 30% had lower rates than alternatives. The deeper complaint is that charters enforce order, which progressive educators long ago replaced with student-teacher “dialogues.”
The group’s real motive is following orders from its teacher-union patrons. The NAACP in 2011 filed a lawsuit with the United Federation of Teachers to prevent the expansion of some New York City charter schools, which are now driving the Empire State’s educational progress. The National Education Association dropped $100,000 in 2014 for a partnership with the NAACP. The unions expect the NAACP’s help in fending off charter competition.

No one argues that charter schools will fix all that ails American education, but for many families they are an evacuation route from failure factories. Apparently the NAACP doesn’t think black parents deserve that option. The irony is that W.E.B. DuBois founded the place to fight precisely that kind of paternalism and forced inequality.

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