J4J and NAACP Unite

With NAACP’s call for a moratorium on Charter school expansion and The Movement for Black Lives on the end of school privatization
August 8, 2016

The Journey for Justice Alliance applauds the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for joining the cacophony of voices from urban communities across the United States demanding the end of unwarranted expansion of charter schools across the United States.  The NAACP’s call for a moratorium on Charter school expansion is in the most honorable civil rights tradition of advocacy grounded in local realities.

The Journey for Justice Alliance wholeheartedly unites with the NAACP in calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and The Movement for Black Lives Platform; which calls for an end to school privatization, and we humbly appreciate having a role in developing the education demands. We also call for an end to school privatization with a moratorium on school closings, turnarounds, phase-outs and co-locations.  We want an end to mayoral control, state takeovers and other privatization schemes that remove our right to hold public officials accountable for the education policy they set; and curiously target cities whose public school systems serve primarily African-American and Latino children. These actions do not result in improved academic outcomes for our students, but grease the rails for brokering the responsibility of educating our children to private operators.  Our members across this country are not blinded by the illusion of choice.

We respectfully disagree with Dr. Steve Perry who talks from the privatizer’s messaging manual when he says that parents are “voting with their feet” When school districts starve neighborhood schools, parents desperately search for a space for their child. The sabotage of good neighborhood schools is conveniently omitted from the ideologues’ rants while teachers, students, parents and communities are demonized to serve the market’s agenda; close neighborhood schools to open charters and in some cities contract schools.  There is a growing awareness in our communities that we don’t have “failing schools,” we have been failed.

America has failed in enforcing the mandate of Brown v. Board and instead of an honest and earnest commitment to education equity, profiteers hijack civil rights language to run Black and Brown schools for profit. Proof of that clarity are the tens of thousands of parents and students who have erupted in protest over the firing of their teachers and school closures in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities. Mayors in major U.S. cities like New York and Newark have been elected on a commitment to equity in public education; sustainable community schools and not privatization. Parents in Chicago waging a 34 day hunger strike and winning widespread international support, while parents in Pittsburgh and Seattle reject Teach for America and move their school districts in the direction of strong community schools and rejecting the over-testing of their children. These parents don’t need a stipend to stand up. These students don’t get demerits if they don’t attend the rallies.

The voice is clear and is resounding like an April thunderstorm; the privatization “hustle” is being figured out; we demand that America makes a real commitment to equity and are prepared to put out bodies on the line to win this in our lifetime for our children. Like our white counterparts, our children deserve to go to high-quality neighborhood schools within walking distance of their homes.  This is why we support community-driven school improvement and for struggling schools: the evidence-based and sustainable model of community schools.

We reject the efforts by privatizers to pit charter school parents against traditional public school parents.  Every parent deserves to have excellent schools for their children.  We acknowledge and appreciate charters that operate in the honorable space of being “centers of innovation.”  The ideologues and profiteers who ignore the overwhelming evidence that the charter school movement has produced mediocrity; are tone-deaf to the massive protest by parents and students across the country calling for equity, community control and sustainable, community schools.

To quote pre-eminent scholar Dr. Charles Payne from the University of Chicago, “The charter movement does not deserve the word reform. 
They have produced primarily mediocre interventions that are only accepted because of the race of the children served.”

Jitu Brown

Journey for Justice Alliance