This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The NAACP ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools at its national meeting in Cincinnati over the weekend.
The civil rights organization introduced the moratorium resolution in July, citing as its reasons the diversion of funds from public schools in need and the lack of transparency and community involvement. According to the NAACP, which is more than 100 years old, the current charter school system “puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education.”
“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,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chair of the NAACP national board of directors.
“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.”
According to a statement issued by the NAACP on Saturday afternoon, the new policy will remain in effect until:
- Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.
- Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system.
- Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate.
- Charter schools 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.
Since it was proposed, the resolution has sparked a nationwide debate within the Black community between supporters of the resolution and charter advocates concerned with Black and Latino students’ access to quality education. In the days leading up to the vote, parents and advocates protested the resolution on social media with the hashtag #ChartersWork and protesters from Memphis drove to Cincinnati for a last effort to sway the voters into pro-charter territory.
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools president and CEO Nina Rees said the NAACP is not listening to the people they are supposed to represent, but she remains hopeful for the future.
“We are encouraged that in their misguided policy the NAACP is clear that they are not opposed to charter schools,” Rees said.
“There’s an opportunity to have a conversation among people and organizations that share the goal of providing an excellent and equitable education for all students."