Renegade locals fight California state NAACP and national board over anti-charter school stance.
Nearly 68 percent of all black public school students in California perform below their grade level in English and language arts, and more than 80 percent fail to meet the state’s proficiency mark in math, according to the latest California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.
On the other hand, a Stanford University study in 2015, consistent with most others, showed that black students in charter schools in California’s urban centers gain weeks and months of additional learning as a result of being in charter schools. For example, in the Bay Area, black charter school students gain 3 months in reading and 4 months in math. In Southern California, they gain 14 days in reading and 4 weeks in math. Across all urban regions nationwide, black charter school students gain 26 days in reading and 36 days in math.
So, given those statistics, it’s no surprise that results of a Democrats for Education Reform poll released last Friday reveal that 58 percent of black Democratic voters view charters favorably, while only 26 percent of whites do. As such, you would think that a “civil rights” group like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would be all in for charter schools, right? Well, think again.
Back in 2016, the NAACP stunned many by voting for a resolution that called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools in the U.S. Embarrassingly, the group’s talking points and verbiage came directly from the teacher union playbook with all the inherent claptrap intact. For example, a part of the resolution asserted that charter schools “have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system.” Furthermore, the NAACP claimed that weak oversight of charters “puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education.”
This is absolute nonsense. As I wrote at the time, the NAACP did not mention that access to charter schools gives blacks and other minorities a great opportunity to escape lives of poverty and/or crime in many urban areas. Most studies show that public charters outperform traditional district schools, and that minorities and the poor are the biggest winners.
Why would the once-venerable civil rights organization take such a stance? As reported by RiShawn Biddle in 2016, there were 358,000 reasons, referring to the number of dollars the two national teachers unions donated to NAACP over the previous five years. Dr. Steve Perry, founder of the highly successful Capital Preparatory Schools in Connecticut was furious. Speaking angrily about the NAACP on Roland Martin’s TV show, Perry said, “They couldn’t be more out of touch if they ran full speed in the other direction… This is more proof that the NAACP has been mortgaged by the teachers union and they keep paying y’all to say what they want to say.”
While the NAACP reaffirmed its anti-charter position in 2017, there is now a mini-revolt brewing. The San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino NAACP branches, which have some of the state’s largest populations of black students, have submitted resolutions to the NAACP state board saying that they oppose their anti-charter position.
The NAACP central planners are in a collective snit over the pushback. As reported by LA School Report, Alice Huffman, president of the California Hawaii NAACP, told leaders of the three local branches that the state body “has already taken a position of opposition and would appreciate it if you all would rescind your positions.”
More sanctimoniously – and with a huge dollop of hypocrisy – Julian Vasquez Heilig, the education chair of California’s NAACP wing, weighed in. Heilig, who played an instrumental role in the national board’s adoption of the charter moratorium, is accusing members of the renegade branches, notably the Riverside group, of being paid by the California Charter Schools Association.
But Christina Laster, education chairwoman for the Riverside branch, vehemently denied the charge, insisting that she has never received one penny from CCSA.
It’s important to note that not only is Heilig the head of the education wing of NAACP California, but he also sits on the board of directors of the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education, which provides grants in a variety of areas related to education. If anyone should stay away from finger-pointing, it’s Heilig.
In any event, Laster claims that her group will hear back from the state board shortly, saying, “They can approve it (the resolution) and send it to national, or they can reject it.”
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.