AQE Supports NAACP Call for Charter Moratorium
New York State has its own Issues With Charter Accountability, Moratorium May be Appropriate
NEW YORK (October 25, 2016) - The NAACP’s call for charter school moratorium is timely and warranted. As the charter sector has grown, there has been limited public accountability and a great cause for concern; especially within the Black and Latino communities they mostly serve.
Across New York State we see firsthand why there is a dire need to halt the expansion of charter schools until there is a mechanism to ensure their public accountability. In Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, several charter schools were shut down because of financial issues and potential mismanagement and fraud. There are also widespread accounts of charters employing harmful punitive measures that we know contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. Several charter networks have been exposed for having significantly lower numbers of special needs children, English Language Learners, and low- income students, there have also been shocking accounts of “hard to teach” students being pushed out.
This October marks the 1 year anniversary of the New York Time’s “Got to Go” expose, a raw account of how a Principal at Success Academy relentlessly targeted students until their families were forced to withdraw them from the school. A key component of this pushout is zero tolerance discipline policies. At Success Academy one student was suspended 30 times before the parents felt forced to withdraw the student. We’ve seen the “rip and redo” video with a charter proclaimed “master teacher” demoralizing a student in front of the class.
However this is not just a Success Academy issue; Achievement First, KIPP, and Democracy Prep, all have been cited for suspending our youngest students upwards of 20 times. In New York City, 48 of the 50 schools with the highest levels of suspension were charter schools.
These zero tolerance disciplinary practices mirror racist broken windows policing, This, all while employing some teachers and staff that are neither certified nor culturally reflective of the black and brown students they aim to teach.
There has been no accountability for the negative consequences of their policies in the black and brown communities they say they want to serve and all while actively pushing for the expansion of the charter industry.
The dissonance that exists between traditional public schools and charters is not the highlight of a demand for a moratorium as media has made it out to be; securing power, rights, and oversight for a community that has already been victim of educational racism and neglect is. There is something to be said about a “public” entity that holds no liability to the public, especially when these institutions have the responsibility of educating children, mostly from marginalized groups.
Charter networks working within communities of color have been known to destabilize existing neighborhood schools as well as dismantle community power because they exist as privately run institutions. This moratorium would serve to ensure that these communities are empowered not only by choice, but also with the ability to have a say in how their child’s school should be run.
The futures of children’s lives are dependent on sound nurturing learning environments. At the end of the day we should all be working towards finding ways to ensure that all schools are safe supportive learning environments for all children and in schools lacking proper accountability this becomes impossible for parents.