Civil rights leaders understand that education is the key to escaping the cycle of poverty that’s prevalent in many inner-city neighborhoods. Kids trapped in poorly run, dangerous schools often don’t receive the instruction required to move on to college or a decent job.
Those children need quality options like charter schools, or government vouchers to pay tuition at private schools, if they are going to have a chance to succeed. Most civil rights leaders understand that concept and want to help children seek quality education beyond their geographic school district boundaries.
So why isn’t the NAACP on board?
That organization has joined New York City’s United Federation of Teachers in filing a lawsuit that would prevent the closure of approximately two dozen failing schools, prevent several dozen charter schools from sharing space in public school buildings, and prevent the opening of at least two new charter schools.
In other words, the NAACP is suing to keep a lot of black kids trapped in really bad schools, with no options for escape.
It isn’t just white guys like me who are shocked by the group’s indifference to the plight of its New York City constituency. The New York Daily News published a scathing op-ed co-written by the president of the United Negro College Fund. Michael Lomax wrote in part:
“…But now, a lawsuit filed by the teachers union and the NAACP is threatening to stop progress in its tracks.
“Those organizations - especially the NAACP - ought to be ashamed for fighting to deprive kids and families of better educational options.
“Where education reform has worked, as it has in New York City as demonstrated by student achievement gains, it is because schools have been held accountable for educating children and families have been given choices.
“The lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP would take troubling steps in the exact opposite direction. The suit seeks to block the city from shutting down about two dozen traditional schools whose students are not learning what they need to know to succeed at the next level - and prevent 19 public charter schools from sharing facilities with existing traditional schools. Were the plaintiffs to succeed, these schools would either be unable to enroll new children or could face closure.
Many citizens have also taken exception with the NAACP’s position. An estimated 2,500 kids and parents recently protested outside the organization’s New York office.