Charter schools segregate students. That’s a claim public school advocates in North Carolina and nationally continue to make (see here and here) . They spout the nonsense in hopes of stemming the growing numbers of students transferring from government schools to charter schools.
Darrell Bradford, Executive Director of the New York Campaign for Achievement (NYCAN) dissects the claim even further on a blog post on the education web site, The 74, Bradford says the segregation claim is really a stealth attack on the concept of providing educational excellence for all African-Americans.
The truth is, the attack on charters and their perceived role in segregation reveals a deep and troubling double standard. It’s powered by a desire to destroy black academic excellence — along with those who seek it out and those who seek to provide it — in the name of some other set of democratic fundamentals that, at this point, don’t exist even on paper, let alone in reality. This line of attack illuminates the preferential treatment non-black minorities and, of course, white Americans receive in the realm of public education as a framework for schooling. A framework that doesn’t work for millions of black and brown children but is valorized over those we see having life-changing effects, particularly in our large urban centers.
You can see this bias clearly when you examine how traditional district loyalists and anti-charter activists defend underperforming and overwhelmingly black neighborhood schools. These folks have held these schools blameless during their destructive reign even as black futures have been squandered within them.
Black folks are unique in America because we are often asked to sacrifice some notion of personal agency or sovereignty “for the greater good” in manners that other groups are not asked to and would never be expected to. Don’t protest police shootings because law and order matter more than living and breathing. Give up school choice because democratic school boards are more fundamental than if your kid is educated. Don’t seek a school that may mirror your values and affirm your racial and ethnic identity because integration and assimilation are more important, even if the former is a problem of white preference and the latter potentially undermines your child’s sense of self.
In this round of “segregationist” attacks on charters (a line of reasoning now also core to union opposition against charters as well), we see the latest in a long line of American school policies that all amount to the same thing: a raucous and callous shout of “get to the back of the line” to the country’s black families.
It’s a command to which no family, charter or otherwise, should assent. Now or ever.
Next time you hear the segregation card played against charter schools, don’t buy it. It’s a baseless charge. It’s odd how you never hear the claim from a parent or child who actually attends a charter school? Such smears only protect the failed status quo and limit educational opportunities for African-Americans. All compelling reasons why such charges should be vigorously disputed.