Black Parents protest NAACP lawsuit against New York City Charter Schools

The New York State Conference of the NAACP has joined the teachers union in a lawsuit to halt the closure of 22 failing New York City schools and to prevent 17 New York City charter schools from opening, moving or expanding.  African-American parents of charter school students have responded by rallying against the NAACP’s involvement in the lawsuit.  The parents are highly upset at the NAACP’s actions while the NAACP’s justification is that the charter schools are re-establishing the doctrine of separate but equal that was banned in the 1954 supreme court ruling, Brown vs. The Board of Education and that charter schools, because they use public dollars, represent an attempt to re-create separate but unequal education.  They assert this even as African-American parents of charter school students are protesting against the NAACP. You can read additional details on this here.

Most issues, including this one, can rarely be seen as strictly black and white, but are in shades of grey.  I think once one approaches an issue from this perspective, things can be analyzed a bit differently.  It would be very easy here to dismiss the NAACP and its concerns totally.  Similarly, it would be very easy to jump onto the school choice bandwagon as the sole solution to failing schools.  Actually, the marketing around school choice actually leads one to that conclusion because any other possible solution has been excluded.

Let’s address the NAACP first.  It’s clear to me that the NAACP is basically an organization struggling for relevance and that’s been the case for the past several years.  Due to this, it’s basically been reduced to an organization that’s merely called upon to lend a “veneer of diversity” to someone else’s issues.  We saw this in the marijuana legalization attempt in California when the state NAACP jumped in bed with financier and legalization advocate George Soros and called marijuana legalization a civil rights issue. In that instance too, it riled some in the African-American community.  Here, the teacher’s union apparently needs some help, so the NAACP has been co-opted to jump on their bandwagon.  Ironically, in its desperate search for relevance, the NAACP is finding itself becoming  attached to issues that reinforce its irrelevance.  There are several problems with the NAACP of which their irrelevance is a symptom.  First and foremost among the NAACP’s problems is the fact that it’s lacks what I refer to an entrepreneurial vision of where it needs to be and how it will get there.  The marketplace always determines relevance and it is not tied to its marketplace mainly because its major funding sources don’t come from the African-American community.  If they were more reliant on the African-American community for funding, they’d be forced to ensure that the issues they pursue are indeed aligned to the concerns of black folks generally.  If this were the case, there’d be no need for any quid pro quo with folks like George Soros, unions and etc.  As a matter of fact, if they were more entrepreneurial in their thinking, they’d be on the forefront in coming up with practical solutions for failing schools and perhaps included in that would be the creation of an alternative to charter schools or even running one of them.  The measure of a weak organization is one where it feels it has no alternative other than to jump on someone else’s bandwagon rather than actually leading on an issue.  It doesn’t have to be that way and due to the lack of its own bandwagon, the NAACP is being positioned to take a huge public relations hit in its own backyard and the sad thing about it is that they don’t even realize it.  There’s a fight to fight, but they happen to be fighting the wrong one for the wrong reasons.  Both the NAACP and the African-American parents protesting against them are pawns on a chessboard neither has a full appreciation of.

School choice is really the same march towards privatization that has characterized the rest of the economy.  Private interests see an opportunity to grab some public dollars, strip out some costs and generate profits.  There are no net savings for the tax paying public.  The money that would otherwise go to public schools is being diverted to private profit making institutions and for this to work for them, they’ve got to break the teacher’s unions.   As I understand it, the  incorrigible students with the behavior problems are too “costly” to take, so they remain mired in the public system while they take the cream of the crop, so to speak, in whatever school choice platform that happens to be operable.  So the best students are simply taken, tax dollars are taken and teacher unions are busted in what amounts to a sort of financial arbitrage using the public coffers.

This has been brought to us by the same so called “free market thinkers” who brought us the wave of deregulation that has put the country in the leaky economic boat it currently sits.  In their minds, there’s a free market solution to everything that under the sun, but the jury is in—we’ve seen that free unfettered markets are merely a cover to extract profits while at the government trough.   It’s this philosophy that lies at the very root of school choice.  Hence, the NAACP’s error in simply casting this as a strictly racial issue, when it is actually an economic one centered on a bankrupt philosophy, paints them in a corner and limits the debate and their effectiveness.   Racial issues in America have always been about economics and economic exploitation and this is where the battle lies.  To merely characterize the situation on the basis of it being a a racial grievance alone misses the point and until the perspective expands to the entirety of the system, of which racism is just one aspect, effectiveness in addressing the situation is necessarily limited.

When I hear people who I know don’t give a tinker’s damn about conditions in the African-American community push vouchers as a “solution” for failing schools, my suspicions are immediately aroused.  There’s a lot of stuff failing in the African-American community, so why are “you” just so worried about the schools?  Here’s what I know—unless a people, in this case black folks, assume full charge of their problems and the paths to solve them, they become merely a part of someone else’s agenda.  In this case, the agenda is simply about making money under the guise of solving a problem.  I should hasten to mention here that the flip side of privatization that directly impacts the African-American community are those who’ve built and run the private jails.  Hence, once again, we see that our failure as African-Americans to find solutions to the problems that ail us means that someone else’s solutions find us.  And once those solutions find us, it’s too late to protest.

I hate to see us get played and this constantly occurs without our awareness, but those forces arrayed against us and seeking to take advantage of the conditions that exist have done their homework.  Although most in the African-American community  (and most people generally) are totally unaware of this, the situation in the community is studied quite heavily often with a view towards exploiting the conditions that exist.  The primary condition that sets this up is the level of political, social and economic chaos that frequently exists.  When those conditions are combined with ineffective or non-existent leadership, those with nefarious intent find it’s easy to shape and mold an agenda that suits them.  Leadership, true representative leadership, is always the bulwark against this sort of thing.  Because that is missing, there’s no bulwark against gangs, drug dealers, politicians on the take, failing schools, financial arbitragers and “free market” activists seeking profits.  Anything goes because there’s no one who can say no.  There’s no bulwark to protect the community, its children, its families and etc from various forces within and without that bring harm.  That’s the cost of the lack of independent leadership.

What is independent leadership?  One can’t have independence unless there’s exists financial independence.  That’s not necessarily a measure of how much in terms of economic resources one has so much as a measure of where it comes from.  Why is it that it seems that so much of African-American leadership comes from the church?  Some would argue that this is so because we’re a religious people, but I have different take on that.  Our leadership has been dominated by pastors and the like mainly because these guys are among the rare breed with an income actually tied to the African-American community and all things being equal, there’s more of a link of accountability.  This works similarly with black business people or anyone else in a situation where their income is derived from a particular community combined with a genuine interest in the betterment of that community.  This is a key structural link that is missing in most black communities.

There’s a fundamental difference when a community has an economic link to those who’d represent them.  I’d argue very strongly that if you’re not “paying” for representation, you really don’t have it.  If someone else is paying for someone to represent you, then it should be abundantly clear that they’re accountable to whoever pays them.  How can you exert control over someone who purports to be working on your behalf when you did not pay them?  Let’s keep that in mind and raise this question—think of every major civil rights organization, activist, politician and etc. and ask yourself where do they get their money?  Ask yourself if you didn’t pay them, who did? Once you understand the funding, you will come to understand that we’re mostly not represented and because black folks don’t control the funding, we don’t control the issues pursued even if they ostensibly appear to be “black issues”. This is so because those who control the funding can also manipulate someone against his own interests.   Once the lack of economic independence and/or our lack of control over the very institutions that purport to “represent us” is linked to the conditions that exist within African-American communities, you will come to understand why there’s no bulwark against the various maladies that are imposed or the free market activists pretending to bring gifts when all they’re doing is extracting profits from the problems.   Those who seek to exploit the situation within the African-American community have a full understanding of this dynamic even as many of us lack an appreciation of the same.  Again, economic independence is not about “how much” but rather about “from where”.  It’s the latter that indicates control.

Tracing the money is always the litmus test that has to be applied to almost anything.  Once one does that, you understand motivations and accountabilities.

Above I say that the NAACP has a fight to fight, but that it’s engaged in the wrong one. Actually, this is not just their fight alone, but a challenge for all of us.  The battle lines are right in the African-American community. The best minds need to turn inward and determine what it is that we can do to address some of the issues within. Just that mere step alone, even if solutions are partial, would represent a sea change that would be noticed by all observers.  That would be the start of the leadership bulwark that’s sorely needed.  However, there’s one major thing that has to be taken into account. There are clear vested economic interests in the current conditions and a social or political movement intent on altering the conditions will impact those interests negatively.    Proponents of school choice will be hurt by  public schools succeeding.  Drug dealers, and those behind them, will be hurt by the lack of sanctuary.  Private prison contractors will be hurt by a growing number of politically and socially conscious people.  The list goes on and on, but one must appreciate that there are two economic sides of the conditions that exist in African-American communities.  The conditions of social and political mayhem are both a source of economic destruction and profits. Those with profits tied to the existing conditions will resist any changes.  That makes this a battle as tough as anything seen during the civil rights struggles and that fact must be appreciated before it’s joined.   The bottom line is that those most directly impacted by the problems in the African-American community must be the ones coming up with the innovations to resolve them otherwise ground is ceded to those who seek to impose a solution from without.  School choice represents a solution from without.



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  • Black Diaspora

    “School choice is really the same march towards privatization that has characterized the rest of the economy. Private interests see an opportunity to grab some public dollars, strip out some costs and generate profits. There are no net savings for the tax paying public. The money that would otherwise go to public schools is being diverted to private profit making institutions and for this to work for them, they’ve got to break the teacher’s unions.”
    The current trend in this country is away from “shared sacrifice” and “shared power.” Not only are we seeing a concentration of wealth, but a concentration of power, as well. This is a throwback to conditions that existed many years ago, a retroactive move that eliminates some of the gains we’ve made over the past 50 odd years–a solid, financially healthy middle class, and unions to assure that it stayed that way.
    I’m told: Corporations are deserting our U.S. middle class for “emerging middle-class markets” worldwide. These emerging middle-class markets have become more lucrative than ours. Yet when trouble strikes, these same corporations turn to U.S. taxpayer to bail them and keep them afloat.
    “In their minds, there’s a free market solution to everything that under the sun, but the jury is in—we’ve seen that free unfettered markets are merely a cover to extract profits while at the government trough. It’s this philosophy that lies at the very root of school choice.”

    I agree.
    Some bandy about the term “economic patriotism,” suggesting that free market capitalism, and the corporations that benefit from it, owe some allegiance to their country of origin, and those consumers whose purchases allowed them to thrive for decades.
    While we have shown our patriotism with taxpayer bailouts, subsidies, and what have you, these corporations have threatened higher prices, and massive layoffs, with just the suggestion of shared sacrifice: the levying of higher taxes, or the end to specific subsidies.
    As we give more and more to these corporations, their maws open wider to receive more–today it’s the privatization of prisons, tomorrow the privatization of schools, and perhaps in the near future, law enforcement and fire fighting. Largely, we have already  privatized our largest police force: our military. 
    Why would we want to privatize education, institutions that are as critical to our national wellbeing as the provision of health care, and subject them to a profit model, escapes me.
    Increasingly, the cost will rise as greedy providers charge more and more, and the product (an educated workforce) decreases concomitantly, as their corporate bottomlines become more important than the service they provide, leading to cost cuts, and a streamlined operation that has nothing to do with the education of our children.
    Already, to attend privately-run colleges and universities to pursue a sheepskin requires thousands of dollars of loans, some underwritten by the federal government.
    “The bottom line is that those most directly impacted by the problems in the African-American community must be the ones coming up with the innovations to resolve them otherwise ground is ceded to those who seek to impose a solution from without. School choice represents a solution from without.”

    Some may argue that we’re too close to the problem to fix it, but being close to the problem has other benefits: Who more than us know where the system has failed? Who more than us know who’s responsible for that failure? And who more than us have lived with the results of  that failure.

    If we can’t fix it from within, it can’t be fixed from without!

    • >>Yet, “being” can precede “doing,” allowing us to affirm ourselves, and define ourselves, from a place of “being,” actually carrying out our daily actions and activities as a result of what we’re being,  but this mental state is rarely understood, or consciously pursued.<<<

      BD,  I thought this quote by you was appropriate to insert here as when we get down to the bottom line, this is the root reason why we've not set up the structures to solve some of the more thornier issues within.  Now, I don't exclude exogenous factors like outside interference and influence, but even those are controlled with a different sort of consciousness and I wanted to take this opportunity to amplify my  thoughts particularly since I harshly criticized the NAACP.

      The main state of being we need to have is to simply believe we're equal and that genius and ability aren't the sole province of other people.  We have those qualities and we need to deploy them to address our challenges directly and while doing so, we deal with everyone indirectly.  It we believe that and that is our state of being, then we can move beyond the idea that doing something is merely protesting, bringing lawsuits and etc as all of those things are ultimately contingent on someone else altering his behavior and if he refuses to do so, it sets up the dynamic of us not being able to move forward merely because someone else refused to change.  If we believe we're equal, then there's no task we can't take on and succeed at independently.

      Solving this problem as well as others is going to take a sustained organizational effort by a group of people who are dedicated,  in possession of certain technical skills, who have the right philosophical outlook and who are prepared to execute with the knowledge that there won't be immediate successes and there may actually be some failures, but they realize that this is part of the process of developing and honing an effective organization.  This is very much like starting a business in the sense that it's the common entrepreneurial experience.

      Developing structures to solve the problems isn't a mass movement, but  small competent groups of people intent on having an impact by doing real work to solve real problems.  I believe there exists people like this who are doing things already, but they're unheralded and unrecognized.  What has to be broken is the idea that these sort of things can only be organized and funded from the outside and the most important tasks that anyone has who engages in any of this is to create and demonstrate a working model of success that is totally indigent.  There's little competition in this regard, so any success at addressing a real problem, no matter how slight, is going to get noticed and as these groups gain the confidence of the people by solving problems, it's only natural that that they'd assume the mantle of leadership.  IMO, the outside funding  and influence usurps that natural process which leaves the door open for the free marketers and others to do as they please without any effective challenge or alternative.  In this case, the lawsuit positions the NAACP against what should be its constituents and only advances the interests of the free marketers in their quest to extract profits.   A far more effective approach to block them would be fixing the problems, but that begins with the proper state of "being".

      • Black Diaspora

        1) “The main state of being we need to have is to simply believe we’re equal
        and that genius and ability aren’t the sole province of other people.”

        This would be a good, firm beginning. Cultivating a certain state of being is
        the quickest way to creating the desired outcome we have imagined.

        2) “It we believe that and that is our state of being, then we can move
        beyond the idea that doing something is merely protesting…”

        Ultimately, the only one we can change is ourself. Our success or lack there
        of can’t be contingent on changing the hearts of others, as that in itself would
        become the goal, rather than advancing ourself in meaningful and tangible ways.
        As an example: The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t about changing hearts but laws
        that were impediments to our advancement.

        3) “If we believe we’re equal, then there’s no task we can’t take on and
        succeed at independently.”

        True. And the enemy has done everything within its power not to let this
        state of being take hold. This is why a Barack Obama presents such a threat to
        the status quo. It’s not surprising, therefore, that we’re sent daily reminders
        of his blackness–watermelon patches on the White House lawn, waffle boxes with
        his face on them, and photoshopped pictures of the First Lady, and the
        president, as a pimp and a whore.

        The image of a black man in the White House is just too powerful! Black folk
        may start thinking that they’re as good as whites. Yet, time marches on, and
        what was is no more. There’s nothing that the enemy of blacks can now do to
        erase this image of equality from the minds of our children, and earlier
        generations who never thought this day would arrive in their lifetime.

        A shift in consciousness has taken place. The shift impacts both whites and
        blacks, but blacks are the major recipients of this shift.

        Those blacks who benefited from the status quo, are equally disturbed. You
        can know them by their efforts to blacken Obama, not in positive ways, but
        negative ones. I won’t name them here, as they’re too easy to find.

        “[T]he lawsuit positions the NAACP against what should be its constituents
        and only advances the interests of the free marketers in their quest to extract
        profits. A far more effective approach to block them would be fixing the
        problems, but that begins with the proper state of ‘being’.”

        And regarding the lawsuit: This has never been the NAACP’s historical
        position to use the courts to attack blacks. We would expect this kind of a
        legal action from a white group not a black one, regardless of the merits of the
        case. This puts a black face on the suit, which is probably the reason the NAACP
        was commissioned in the first place. And as you’ve previously stated:

        “There’s a fight to fight, but they happen to be fighting the
        wrong one for the wrong reasons. Both the NAACP and the African-American parents
        protesting against them are pawns on a chessboard neither has a full
        appreciation of.”

        • >>This puts a black face on the suit, which is probably the reason the NAACP
          was commissioned in the first place.<<<

          Precisely and this occurs all of the time in the name of "diversity", when all this is really about is playing a role in someone else's play.  Not to pick on the NAACP, but this happens all of the time on all sides of the political spectrum and it puts us in the situation of not even owning the debate or the discussion.  Anyone who has a sense of being would never be satisfied in playing a support role in an issue that is of direct importance to them or those they represent and this is my biggest problem with this issue.  If we don't even own the debate on a problem of direct relevance to black people, how can we hope to solve it?  The very nature of this sort of position continues our position as an appendage of someone else's agenda while having none of our own.  This is really a pet peeve of mine.

          These school choice free marketers have funded a number of non-profits to go out there and shape the debate and shift it towards the acceptance of public dollars to address bad schools and since the "bad schools" are predominantly in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the debate over school choice occurs there largely without the involvement of the people directly affected except in a support role.  I have a friend who sits on the board of one of these non-profit groups, which happens to have a name that denotes that this group is on the left side of the political spectrum (the free choice marketers have funded both sides so these same sorts of groups reside on the right side of the spectrum as well).  Until this lawsuit arose, I never gave much thought when I saw his periodic speeches on education.  Since he was a former elected official, I just thought this was an affinity.  When putting together this post, I ran across an article he had written critical of the NAACP from the perspective of  it being against education and upon doing a bit of research on his organization, discovered that it was essentially an interest group to promote free choice and that his role is similar to that of the NAACP's–a visible appendage of someone else's agenda.  This organization is set up with visible black faces on the board and as spokespersons, yet the staff who runs the day to day affairs and the folks with the real power on the board are whites who have been clearly placed there by those economic interests promoting school choice.  They merely decided that they needed a little window dressing to make this fly and my friend happily complied.  He no doubt believes that he's helping kids, but fails to see that he's merely a pawn in someone else's agenda.  There are some of our folks who have an appreciation of the entire picture and know they're getting used, but figured they're fine with it as long as it involves getting paid.

          Once you go over right side of the political spectrum, the same thing applies, but just happens to be more obvious.  But whether it's left, right or in between, we frequently occupy the supporting role and not the leading role on issues of direct importance to African-American community and in all of the debate on the internet about this, the one thing that's hasn't entered the debate is our being in charge of an innovation or a solution to address these issues.  This thing is set up where that is automatically excluded and the debate is really shaped around what they want us to have it on, which leads to a pre-determined solution that only feathers an economic nest.

          This is very slick and subtle psychological stuff that plays off of several dynamics in the African-American community beginning with our lack of being and our desire to be accepted.  Those are used against us.  School choice is just the latest iteration of an attempt to make money off our backs.  There are countless other examples and all hinge off of this lack of consciousness.   

        • >>>It’s not surprising, therefore, that we’re sent daily reminders
          of his blackness–watermelon patches on the White House lawn, waffle boxes with
          his face on them, and photoshopped pictures of the First Lady, and the
          president, as a pimp and a whore.<<<<

          I refuse to let this sort of thing get a rise out of me.   This is calculated to generate outrage and then use that outrage and  indignation against us to advance a political agenda once again.  Most people, for whatever reason, will never see or bother to understand to root cause of someone's anger about this sort of thing.  So they'll never "see' anything like this,  but they'll focus like a laser beam on the response.  And this is precisely what Fox News and their ilk has been attempting to do since Obama's election.  They are attempting to invoke outrage so they can position it to advance their political agenda.  The whole thing with Brietbart with Shirley Sherrod, the whole black panther thing and this are all about this.  Basically, there's no limit to what they'll do to keep some sort of undercurrent going to prevent any real issues from being considered or anything being done to address them.  The objective here is to keep something going and there's nothing that keeps stuff going like race.  Nothing and these people wield this weapon all the time

          On the one hand, it's about race, but that also supports the larger agenda of divide and conquer everyone along the lines of the issue of the race war scenario you were discussing.   These guys will go the circuit on this—one weeks it's Muslims, the next it's Hispanics, then Black folks.  They want folks fighting so common cause never enters their minds. 


  • Enrique Cardova

    I would have to disagree on some of the points you raise here in your otherwise perceptive piece.

    First private schools may indeed look to generate profits but so what? The current public school system makes a nice profit on black kids, in the form of salaries, benefits and control over young black bodies. You yourself have noted the associated problems. The only difference is that the public school cabal does not call their reaping “profit”, and can thus continue the bogus propaganda line presenting themselves as selfless workers for “the children” versus “evil” profit-making entities, source of darkness. You mention how the black community is being played. I agree. The biggest manipulators are the public school cabals.

    Second, it it not at all clear that private schools return no net savings to the taxpayers. To the contrary, they may very well be less expensive, as they shed much of the “overhead” of the public school bureaucracy, and the bloated accretions to “education” – like bloated athletic budgets, among other things.

    Third, you say that to make things work for the private operators, “they’ve got to break the teacher’s unions.” This is not at all true. In fact substantial numbers of private schools exist in parallel with the public school, and pose little threat to entrenched teacher’s unions. Most of the much touted voucher programs, hailed as some sort of panacea in some quarters, have likewise been beaten back, minimized or co-opted by the union machines. Said machines face little danger from private schools as such, or even vouchers. The biggest threat to union machines is what we have in Wisconsin, state lawmakers and executives determined to roll back their power and influence. The main weapon in doing this is not privatization- it is hard-nosed bargaining, budget cuts and privilege rollbacks at the political level to roll back union power. The governor of Wisconsin is no fool for example, to allow a powerful group who opposed his election a free pass. He will move to curb their power, a scenario that will likely be repeated elsewhere as electorates send up politicians tired of high taxes and the seemingly never-ending round of bad education news. These are the real dragon slayers, not ineffectual vouchers or private schools.

    Fourth, you mention how privatization will “cream the crop” of the best students. This is not so necessarily. The picture is very mixed. Indeed, private school alternatives can be one of the main funnels that remove the “undesirables” from public schools: the special needs kids, the kids of activists and “agitators” (such as some Afrocentric home-schoolers), the religious, and an assortment of kids that “don’t fit in” for a number of reasons. By being private of course private schools are free to reject more than public schools, but the public systems themselves have pushed hard for numerous “inclusive” policies, namely so they can build higher body counts and thus build bigger budgets, salaries and benefits for their denizens.
    The notion of a public school system saddled “only with the losers” is a dubious one because (a) said public systems have themselves been foremost lobbyers for “inclusion” and “access’, (b) private schools themselves sometimes take away those deemed “losers” in the view of the public machines and (c) there are huge numbers of public school systems that parents deem good, and in fact fight to gain their kids admittance, including expending substantial amounts to buy housing in “good” school districts. In these areas (mostly white suburbs) it is the PUBLIC schools that are “creaming the crop” while charter schools and other “alternatives’ and sometimes private ones, are increasingly the province of “lesser” educational lights.

    Fifth, there is little in your piece that describes or gives a summary of WHY the black parents were protesting. Instead it is implied that they are pawns of free market activists, and write in detail about the drawbacks of such free market activity. But in fact the black parents are protesting the closure of charter schools, which are public entities, just with less bureaucracy and more flexibility. Charter schools, in general, do not produce spectacular educational results. Their main advantage seems to be that they cost less, produce results that are not much worse that many nearby public schools, and are liked by black parents for their more flexible programming and responsiveness. It is clear from the news article that the black parents LIKE their local charter schools, whatever their faults. The bottom line is that the entrenched unions, joined by the NAACP are seeking to close down options desired and wanted by black parents, who know what they want and are anything but mere pawns.

    So those are my 5 points of disagreement. I concur where you bluntly tell it like it is about the NAACP, their lack of relevance, and the way they piggyback and pander to various  cause of group that will cut them a check, regardless of whether it helps black people or not. I have not seen such a succinct critique in a long time. Indeed it could well be added that the NAACP, in collaboration with entrenched interests is repeating the same damage that it wreaked upon the good, solid all-black schools by forced desegregation. Black schools that once boasted high test scores, numerous academic awards, service to the community, and the development of black professionals, were destroyed, and numerous black administrators, teachers and coaches had their jobs liquidated in the name of integration. Such farces as “busing” for racial “balance” have made little difference, and after decades of turmoil and millions spent- numerous urban schools are STILL segregated -only now the old pride, performance and community spirit have gone, replaced by disorder, poor performance, crime and “gangsta” activity.

    This is a bitter history harvest black education has borne in part (note- there was a good side to integration) because of the NAACP. While many are willing to criticize the obvious floundering of the NAACP for relevance, there is a deeper, negative legacy on black education that many are all too willing to avoid exploring. It is no wonder the black parents don’t like what is going on, and do not want to see the local charter institutions that they take pride in destroyed.

    • Enrique & CF,

      Thanks for your comments and please accept my apologies for the delayed response.  I was out of pocket over the holidays there and am just not settling in and responding to your comments.   I believe you both missed the overarching point I was making.

      Why is it necessary that we debate over a “solution” that was neither generated or implemented by black people?  Basically, for us to debate over school choice reduces this entire discussion down to a debate over what SOMEONE ELSE HAS DONE.  They done it because WE HAVE NOT DEVELOPED A SOLUTION TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM.  So, because black folks have not developed a solution to address the problem with schools  or anything else that ails us , what we have here is someone else’s solution finding us.  Consequently, there are two responses generally here–one that goes down the route of protest such as what the NAACP has done and the other goes down the route of defending the solution imposed from without.  IN NONE OF THIS IS THERE EVER A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO. 

      Are we equal or are we not?  Are we capable or are we not?  Can we not assemble a group of people that can actually do something other than hold endless summits where nothing gets done except for ensuring  everyone’s appearance in the klieg lights?  Can we  figure how to solve problems in our own backyard or are we continually going to be in a situation where we debate not over the best course of action that comes from something we’ve internally developed,  but  instead we have to get into the left/right paradigm and get totally consumed over opposing or defending that which someone else has imposed?

      What I’m interested in is a solution that’s been internally developed and implemented.  If school choice represented that and it was something that the black community came up with to address the problem, I might be fine with it.  If the black community came up with ways to enhance the existing system to fix the problems, I might be fine with that as well.  My bottom line is where the solution emanates from and I don’t buy the idea that those behind the school choice movement are so altruistic that they’re simply doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.  And if someone wants to argue that competition and profits are the main driver and that’s ok, then you’ll need to tell me where exactly that notion comes from?  Is that concept an internally generated one from the African-American community?

      I think not.  Where does the idea come from? As I mentioned, school choice is a form of disaster capitalism that emanates from Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago. Friedman was a big proponent of school choice.  Somehow this widely known economics professor had a “come to Jesus” moment and figured that his theories could be applied to the problems in urban school districts. Friedman’s theories are called disaster capitalism  for good reason—his definition of unfettered free markets includes unbridled de-regulation, privatization and when that fails austerity.  Need evidence?  You can start by looking at the Chilean collapse of the early 80’s, but you don’t have to even travel outside of the country.  Look at the mess that’s on our hands right now and you’ll see a partial reflection of Friedman’s disaster capitalism.

      It’s bad enough we don’t have an internally generated approach to these issues, but to accept one that has a disastrous track record in lieu of our non-existent plans is simply beyond the pale.  

      The schools in the African American community are a reflection of the overall dysfunction that is so often present in all aspects of life.  Any marginal improvement, no matter how small, will get overwhelming support from parents.  This would apply equally to almost anything else (i.e. housing, jobs, vocational training and etc.). Frequently, the school choice advocates constantly harp on the teachers not doing their jobs (and to be sure, there are some who aren’t), but how effective can one actually be teaching or doing anything else in a dysfunctional environment?  If kids are bringing weapons to school, how much education can really go on?  If a teacher has to worry about being assaulted, how much assertive teaching can they do?  If some kid just saw some relative shot the night before, how open is he going to be to learning?  If a kid is hungry, how is completing homework going to be a priority?

      The condition of the schools is a reflection of the community.  Is there a competitive market solution for those problems as well?  Well, they’ve privatized the jails, but I suppose since there’s no profit in the other solutions, those will go unresolved.  And they’ll certainly go unresolved as long as we don’t develop approaches to address them.

      As it is, the results from the privatization of school systems has done very little as measured by improved test scores.  In repeated studies nationally, charter schools have performed no better and in some instances worst than public schools.  If breaking unions and the mad rush towards privatizing entire school systems is justified by some stretch, then there’s scant support that this solution imposed from without is doing the job.  Here in my home state of PA, we have this:

      >>>>The latest Pennsylvania assessment test scores show that more charter
      school students are underperforming than students at traditional public
      schools. Among charter school students, about 20 percent didn’t meet basic
      academic standards in reading and math, compared with about 12 percent
      of district students, according to 2009 Pennsylvania System of Student
      Assessment test results.<<<<>>>The cartoon suggests charter schools are better than other public schools. The editorial says students should be allowed to vote with their feet to find better schools. Neither compared the
      test scores held sacred as quality indicators by the California Department of Education.

      Here’s what they left out. Seventy-seven percent of the Escondido charter school’s students
      are white; one is an English Language Learner. In the Vista school district, 30 percent of grade-schoolers are white, 30 percent are English Language Learners. Here’s a small sample of the 2010 California Standards test scores report, comparing the charter school’s predominantly white
      enrollment with the 5,000 white students enrolled in Vista’s elementary schools. In eighth-grade English language arts, 76 percent of charter school students were proficient at or above grade level, compared to 81 percent of the comparable Vista subgroup. In mathematics, 31 percent of Classical Academy eighth-graders were proficient in Algebra I, compared to 72 percent of white Vista
      students. National studies have shown that charter school test scores are
      generally no better than those of other public schools.<<<<<
      Read more:

      The bottom line is that the conditions in the community are going to be reflected in the schools, charter and otherwise.  The charter school solution is strictly one designed to deliver profits to private institutions while producing marginal results.  But the overarching issue is the lack of an internally developed approach to address a variety of issues within the African-American community of which education is only part.   That's the proper litmus test in actually managing a solution as opposed being in the role of spectators with our noses pressed up against the window looking at someone else's execution.

  • [quote]School choice is really the same march towards privatization that has characterized the rest of the economy. [/quote]Brother Greg L:You could not be more wrong in your analysis on this point.1) The parents of these school children are seeking quality education.  You appear to place the value of the METHODOLOGY of education (ie: government operated schools) than you do on the fact that so many of the government operated schools are FAILING TO SUFFICIENTLY EDUCATE BLACK CHILDREN.2) Charter schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  This is only a matter of school administration 3) When an over crowded public school is forced to stagger the lunch hours in the cafeteria – JUST AS I READ IN THE 2 JONATHAN KOZOL BOOKS that I read 10 years ago claimed – is this any different than what the NAACP is alleging against the chaters?4) If this once over crowded school is depopulated because a new GOVERNMENT OPERATED SCHOOLS is constructed 6 blocks away — Brother Greg L – do you now claim that “The money from the schools are being diverted to another school”?WHY make this claim now?You are guilty of a bit of blindness as you have accepted a certain methodology for educational services distribution as sacrosanct. If these Black parents from Harlem moved out of town to VA or MD – would you criticize their efforts to pursue quality education for their children?

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