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Two For-Profit Charter Myths Undercut: They are NOT Helping Civil Rights OR Supported by Voters

August 11, 2016

In “How Populism is Rewriting the Charter School Narrative” Jeff Bryant reports on two recent actions that undercut the myths created by “school reformers” who support for-profit charter schools.  The first myth, that for-profit charters are redressing a civil rights issue, was upended when the NAACP recently adopted a resolution calling for “a nationwide “moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools.” Bryant writes:

The NAACP resolution, which passed at the national convention in July but will not be official until the National Board meeting later this Fall, cites numerous problems posed by charter schools including their tendencies to increase segregation, impose “punitive and exclusionary” discipline policies on students, and foster financial corruption and conflicts of interest.

As one would expect, the reformers did not take this action lying down. The Democrats for Education Reform declared the resolution a “disservice to communities of color” and charter chain owners characterized it as a sell out to teachers’ unions. But as Bryant notes, the NAACP is only one of many civil rights organizations who are questioning the motives and practices of for-profit charter chains:

…the Movement for Black Lives (MBL)– a coalition of over 50 black-led organizations aligned with Black Lives Matter – also is calling for a moratorium on charter schools… Journey for Justice – an alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations in 21 cities across the country – declares in a statement that its constituency of largely African American local activists is “demanding the end of unwarranted expansion of charter schools.” Another voice for civil rights, the Internet-based collective known as Educolor, also issued a general statement in support of the MBL platform.

Why this change? Because there is no evidence supporting the “fact” that for-profit charter chains improve the educational opportunities for students of color and an increasing amount of evidence that indicate they use the very practices that result in higher suspension rates and the criminalization of misconduct.

The second event Bryant cites is the defeat of dark money funded elections in Nashville, where board members supported by parent advocacy groups defeated a slate of candidates funded by “…charter advocacy groups and the local Chamber of Commerce (who) invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars to knock off their opponents and elect a pro-charter majority to the board.”  The pro-“reform” media has been silent about this defeat, but, as Bryant notes in his closing paragraph, they are probably working on a re-boot… but the public MAY be wise to their game:

Of course, charter school propagandists still have plenty of rhetorical arrows in their quiver. But what’s  abundantly clear is that while they’ve been completely free to write the charter school narrative in their own words, now the people are telling their version of the story. And the ending is no doubt going to look way different.

Here’s hoping that these recent development in grassroots organizing are picked up by the mainstream media and as a result the public’s perception is aligned with the actual results of for-profit charters and NOT the story the “charter school propagandists” have sold to them.

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