National NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for Moratorium on Charter School Expansion

[October 15, 2016 Press Release from NAACP.org]

“Statement Regarding The NAACP’s Resolution on a Moratorium on Charter Schools 

CINCINNATI – Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors ratified a resolution Saturday adopted by delegates at its 2016 107th National Convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight in governance and practice.

“The NAACP has been in the forefront of the struggle for and a staunch advocate of free, high-quality, fully and equitably-funded public education for all children,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors. “We are dedicated to eliminating the severe racial inequities that continue to plague the education system.”

The National Board’s decision to ratify this resolution reaffirms prior resolutions regarding charter schools and the importance of public education, and is one of 47 resolutions adopted today by the Board of Directors. The National Board’s decision to ratify supports its 2014 Resolution, ‘School Privatization Threat to Public Education’, in which the NAACP opposes privatization of public schools and public subsidizing or funding of for-profit or charter schools. Additionally, in 1998 the Association adopted a resolution which unequivocally opposed the establishment and granting of charter schools which are not subject to the same accountability and standardization of qualifications/certification of teachers as public schools and divert already-limited funds from public schools.

We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:
(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools
(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system
(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and
(4) Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

Historically the NAACP has been in strong support of public education and has denounced movements toward privatization that divert public funds to support non-public school choices.

“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” Chairman Brock said. “Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”

While we have reservations about charter schools, we recognize that many children attend traditional public schools that are inadequately and inequitably equipped to prepare them for the innovative and competitive environment they will face as adults. Underfunded and under-supported, these traditional public schools have much work to do to transform curriculum, prepare teachers, and give students the resources they need to have thriving careers in a technologically advanced society that is changing every year. There is no time to wait. Our children immediately deserve the best education we can provide.

“Our ultimate goal is that all children receive a quality public education that prepares them to be a contributing and productive citizen,” said Adora Obi Nweze, Chair of the National NAACP Education Committee, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and a former educator whose committee guides educational policy for the Association.

“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools – as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.”

“The vote taken by the NAACP is a declaratory statement by this Association that the proliferation of charter schools should be halted as we address the concerns raised in our resolution,” said Chairman Brock.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.”

[End of Official Statement]
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Full Resolution is quoted below:

“WHEREAS, charter schools have been a rapidly growing sector of the education system, increasingly targeting low-income areas and communities of color; and

WHEREAS, charter schools with privately appointed boards do not represent the public yet make decisions about how public funds are spent; and

WHEREAS, charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system; and

WHEREAS, research and reports have documented disproportionately high use of punitive and exclusionary discipline in addition to differential enrollment practices that violate protections of student rights for public schooling; and

WHEREAS, research and civil rights organizations have documented violations of parent and children’s rights, conflicts of interest, fiscal mismanagement, and psychologically harmful environments within several rapidly proliferating charter management organizations; and

WHEREAS, analyses on annual missing charter funds have been estimated at nearly half a billion dollars nationally; and

WHEREAS, researchers have warned that charter school expansions in low-income communities mirror predatory lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage disaster, putting schools and communities impacted by these practices at great risk of loss and harm; and

WHEREAS, current policies force district campuses to accommodate co-locations of charter schools, resulting in shortages of resources and space and increasing tension and conflict within school communities; and

WHEREAS, weak oversight of charter schools puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP shares the concerns of the Journey for Justice Alliance, an alliance of 38 organizations of Black and Brown parents and students in 23 states, which has joined with 175 other national local grassroots community, youth, and civil rights organizations calling for a moratorium on the Federal Charter schools program, which has pumped over $3 billion into new charter schools, many of which have already closed or have failed the students drawn to them by the illusive promise of quality.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 2014 resolution, “School Privatization Threat to Public Education,” in which the NAACP opposes the privatization of public schools and/or public subsidizing or funding of for-profit or charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP will continue to advocate against any state or Federal legislation which commits or diverts public funding, allows tax breaks, or establishes preferential advantages to for-profit, private, and/or charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls for full funding and support of high quality free public education for all children; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP calls upon units to seek to pass legislation at the State and Local levels that will ensure that parents have access to Charter School Advocacy Boards and that Charter Schools be required to provide schooling for students that are dismissed from school for disciplinary reasons; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP will seek legislation to strengthen investigative powers of those bodies that oversee charter school fraud, corruption, waste, etc.; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as a tool to help address exclusionary student disciplinary policies and practices of publicly funded charter schools, NAACP units should: a) review the US Department of Justice-US Department of Education joint guidelines on school climate and school discipline http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-departments-education-and-justice-release-school-discipline-guidance-package b) encourage charter school administrators to apply that guidance to its student disciplinary practice; and c) work with parents of charter school students in appropriate cases to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education, to challenge unwarranted exclusionary practices (e.g., suspensions and expulsions); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP hereby supports a moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP opposes bills that would weaken the investigative powers of any legislative body from uncovering charter school fraud, corruption, and/or waste; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP supports legislation and executive actions that would strengthen local governance and transparency of charter schools, and, in so doing, affirms to protect students and families from exploitative governance practices.”

[End of Resolution]
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Background/research:
1 Kretchmar K., Sondel, B., & Ferrare, J.J. (2014).   Mapping the Terrain: Teach For America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship. Journal of Education Policy. 29, (6), 742-759.
2 Lafer, G. (2014). Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Education Than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Mil­waukee, Wisconsin. Economic Policy Institute.
http://www.epi.org/publication/school-privatization-milwaukee/.
3 Urban Youth Collaborative, (2011). No Closer to College: New York High School Students Call for Real School Transformation, Not School Closings.
http://www.urbanyouthcollaborative.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/No-Closer-to-College-Re­port.pdf.
4 Anderson, G.L., & Donchik, L.M. (2016). Privatizing Schooling and Policy Making: The American Legislative Exchange Council and New Political and Discursive Strategies of Education Governance. Educational Policy, 30(2) 322-364.
5 Mathis, W., & Welner, K. (2016). Do Choice Policies Segregate Schools? National Education Policy Center. http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2016/03/choice-segregation.
6 Annenberg Institute for School Reform (2014). Public Accountability for Charter Schools: Standards and Policy Recommendations for Effective Oversight. http://annenberginstitute.org/publications/public-accountability-charter-schools-standards-and-policy-recommendations-effective-ov Downloadable report at: http://annenberginstitute.org/sites/default/files/CharterAccountabilityStds.pdf.
7 Brown, E. (2013). D.C. Charter Schools
Expel Students at Far Higher Rates than Traditional Public Schools. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-charter-schools-expel-students-at-farhigher-rates-than-traditional-publicschools/2013/01/05/e155e4bc-44a9-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html.
8. Losen, D.J., Keith M.A., Hodson, C. L., & Martinez, T. E. (2016). Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review. Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/projects/center-for-civil-rights-remedies/school-to-prison-folder/federal-reports/charter-schools-civil-rights-and-school-discipline-a-comprehensive-review.
9 Taylor, J., Cregor, M., & Lane, P. (2014). Not Measuring Up: Massachusetts’ Students of Color and Students with Disabilities Receive Disproportionate Discipline, Especially in Charter Schools. Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Available at: http://lawyerscom.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Not-Measuring-up_-The-State-of-School-Discipline-in-Massachusetts.pdf.
10 Hirji, R. K. (2014). Are Charter Schools Upholding Student Rights? American Bar Association. http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/childrights/content/articles/winter2014-0114-charter-schools-upholding-student-rights.html.
11 Persson, J. (2015). Feds Spent $3.3 Billion Dollar on Charter Schools, With Few Controls. Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch. http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/05/12830/federal-billions-fuel-charter-school-industry
12 Green, P. C. Baker, B.D. Oluwole, J., & Mead, J.F. (2015). Are We Heading Toward a Charter School ‘Bubble’?: Lessons from the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 50:783, 2016. Available at SSRN:
http://ssrn.com/abstract=2704305.
13 Strauss, V. & Burrris, C. (2016). What Can Happen When a Neighborhood School is Forced to Share its Space With a Charter. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/17/what-can-happen-when-a-neighborhood-school-is-forced-to-share-its-space-with-a-charter/.
14 http://cwcmarvista-co-location-stoner-lausd.blogspot.com/ &
http://thewire.k12newsnetwork.com/2015/08/15/stoner-elementary-community-to-hold-protest-against-charter-school-co-location-that-has-taken-resources-from-home-school/.
15 Woodworth, J.L., Raymond, M.E., Chirbas, K., Gonzalez, M., Negassi, Y., Snow, W., & Van Donge, C. (2015). Online Charter School Study. Center for Research on Education Outcomes. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Available at https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/Online%20Charter%20Study%20Final.pdf.
16 Civil rights complaint filed against the Louisiana Department of Education, Recovery School District, and Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Filed by Advancement Project on Behalf of the Journey for Justice Alliance. http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/24a04d1624216c28b1_4pm6y9lvo.pdf (also available at http://www.katrinatruth.org/pages/education.html).
17 Persson, J. (2015). CMD Publishes Full List of 2,200 Closed Charter Schools (With Interactive Map). Center for Media and Democracy

18 Bryant, J. (2015). Calls Mount for a National Moratorium on Charter Schools. Campaign for America’s Future. https://ourfuture.org/20150615/calls-for-a-national-moratorium-on-charter-schools-mount.
19 Journey for Justice Alliance (2014). Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage. Voices from America’s Affected Communities of Color. http://www.issuelab.org/resource/death_by_a_thousand_cuts.
20 Open Letter to Senators McConnell & Reid and United States Senate (July 6th, 2015). http://www.j4jalliance.com/media/openletter/
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The NAACP resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion was initiated, invited, endorsed, and supported by the President of the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chapter of the NAACP (March 2016), drafted and revised by the education committee, and proposed and approved unanimously at the CA/Hawaii State Convention in April and by 2,200+ delegates at the national convention in July. The NAACP National Board issued the statement quoted above as the official stance following full ratification of the resolution on October 15th, 2016.
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For recent commentaries reporting on the backlash that attempted to derail the resolution, see here and here.  Readers may also be interested in the following guidearticle, and report documenting funding roots of the corporations, organizations, and individuals most heavily promoting the privatization of public education. 
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For more, see: Black To School: The Rising Struggle to Make Black Education Matter by Teacher and Social Justice Activist Jesse Hagopian on TruthOut.

Ten Reasons Why The NAACP is Absolutely Right About a National Moratorium on Charter Schools

Journey for Justice Testimony Oakland Delegates (video documenting initial 2013 community call for charter moratorium)

The Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Schools Part III: Disenfranchised Communities

Charter Schools & “Choice”: A Closer Look

The Highly Questionable Blueprint for Charter School Takeover in Your City or Region

Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures and Public School Sabotage, Voices from America’s Affected Communities of Color

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For a translation of the resolution in Spanish, see here.

For the statement of unity on the NAACP resolution from the Journey for Justice Alliance, a coalition of 175+ civil rights, youth, and community groups, please see here or click on image below.

screenshot-2016-10-18-08-53-49