The Associated Press’ story blaming charter schools for re-segregating schools has the ed reform community in a tizzy. Thought-leaders, policymakers, and advocates have lit up Twitter, and rightfully so, crying foul about a story that supports the tragically irresponsible claim made by the NAACP and AFT (American Federation of Teachers union) last summer.
I get it. People are afraid. As more charters experience success, the greater the potential for the closure of traditional public schools, thus, job loss. So the strategy to label charter schools agents of segregation is a pretty desperate attempt to save jobs, maintain control of marginalized families, and protect the business of masking shit as free and appropriate education.
The AP story was careful to keep the premier teacher’s union and the NAACP out of the spotlight, but the remnants of this summer past can be detected in each line. Remember when AFT chief Randi Weingarten called charter schools and vouchers “slightly more polite cousins to segregation?” And the Reverend Al Sharpton had to chime in:
Maybe it’s a coincidence that the AFT, NAACP, and AP are all calling charter schools segregationists. I wonder if they also believe the audacious accusation that schools full of kids of color cannot succeed. “‘Desegregation works. Nothing else does,” said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney.”
Many of my grandparent’s generation lament desegregation as they blame it for breaking up the village. The tight-knit community of professionals and laborers and artists formed to defend the volatile world around them. Schools and churches were the beacons of these communities and no child was left behind. Enter Generation X, one generation removed from real segregation as Chris Stewart defines as “the state-enforced separation of races and the assignment of minorities into inferior conditions.”
As a Gen X-er, I was forced to attend schools in the suburbs with middle-class white kids and, in turn, forced my kids to do the same. I believed that black and poor kids could only succeed by attending school with white, wealthy kids in their neighborhoods.
But today’s parents of color have figured it out and those accustomed to controlling our narratives are terrified. Clearly, for charter school parents diversity is not the priority as they walk towards educational options that fit. Their steps are loud and the message is clear “This school meets my child’s needs. Period.” More importantly, with their feet, traditionally marginalized parents are sprinting from efforts that work to ensure they stay in the margins.
There are so many shades of wrong coming out of this AP story, but the most egregious act committed is the attack on black and brown parents. Shamelessly shaming them for doing what every white and wealthy parent in America does – selecting the best educational situation for their babies.
The NAACP, AFT, and AP-types should be ashamed of themselves.
And, by the way, we cannot talk racial isolation and segregated schools without discussing housing patterns. So where do you live and how is that working out for your children?