NAACP Under Fire in New York Charter-School War
A fantastic article about a fantastic rally in Harlem last week, calling on the NAACP to stop teaming up with the unions to throw kids under the bus in the civil rights battle of our time:
It was an inspiring sight: a protest rally 3,000 strong in the heart of Harlem. Students, parents, and teachers wielding signs and slogans, all standing up for their right to pursue a quality public-school education.
But the target of their anger was unexpected: the NAACP.
In a role reversal, the esteemed civil-rights organization—which helped secure equal access to education a half-century ago in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education—is now decidedly on the wrong side of history.
This past Friday, the New York chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit with the United Federation of Teachers to stop the expansion of 19 charter schools across the City of New York. The alleged injustice? The failure of the charter schools to equitably share building space with traditional public schools when it came to facilities such as time in the gym. But instead of trying to solve the scheduling problem, the lawsuit simply seeks to stop the expansion of these schools, making them—and 7,000 students already accepted for the fall 2011 school year—functionally homeless.
As Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem charter-school pioneer featured in the hit documentary Waiting for Superman, explained, "A bunch of us in the charter world honestly believe the UFT is not interested in charter schools becoming a permanent part of the landscape in New York City. And the way they think they can stop that from happening is to block access to public-school buildings—which we need if we're going to grow."
Leadership Prep Ocean Hill parent Kathleen Kernivan went straight to the heart of the issue while addressing the crowd:
"My child cannot be told that she's not going to get to go to her school in September," she said. "I cannot look her in the eye, as a parent, and tell her, 'Well, the problem is that this group of people that Mommy told you about during Black History Month, that did all those great things a long time ago—they want to stop you from doing great things."
With the crowd roaring its approval, she concluded: "NAACP, please, don't turn your back on my little girl. Turn your back on this lawsuit instead."
Here are videos from the event:
Part 1 of 3 (includes Geoffrey Canada)
Part 2 of 3
Part 3 of 3