NAACP stum­bles on ed­u­ca­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS Deb­o­rah Sim­mons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­times. com.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple is a bit off its mis­sion and game, ad­vo­cat­ing as it is that pub­lic char­ter schools be as tightly bound to school bu­reau­cra­cies and reg­u­la­tions as teach­ers and school em­ploy­ees are to unions.

The NAACP is press­ing for a mora­to­rium on char­ters and a flat-out ban on pri­vately run char­ter schools, say­ing “al­low­ing for-profit en­ti­ties to op­er­ate schools cre­ates an in­her­ent con­flict of in­ter­est.”

That’s like the fed­eral, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments man­dat­ing that pri­vate schools such as Howard and Har­vard, and Sid­well Friends and Na­tional Cathe­dral School, forego their found­ing lega­cies.

Here are two other rec­om­men­da­tions from the NAACP:

1) “More eq­ui­table and ad­e­quate fund­ing for all schools serv­ing stu­dents of color. Ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing has been in­ad­e­quate and un­equal for stu­dents of color for hun­dreds of years. The United States has one of the most un­equal school fund­ing sys­tems of any coun­try in the in­dus­tri­al­ized world. Re­sources are highly un­equal across states, across dis­tricts, and across schools, and they have de­clined in many com­mu­ni­ties over the last decade. In 36 states, pub­lic school fund­ing has not yet re­turned to pre-2008 lev­els be­fore the great re­ces­sion, and in many states, in­ner city schools have ex­pe­ri­enced the deep­est cuts. Fed­eral funds have also de­clined in real dol­lar terms for both Ti­tle I and for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ex­pen­di­tures over the last decade.”

2) “School fi­nance re­form is needed. To solve the qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion prob­lems that are at the root of many of the is­sues, school fi­nance re­form is es­sen­tial to en­sure that re­sources are al­lo­cated ac­cord­ing to stu­dent needs. States should un­der­take the kinds of weighted stu­dent for­mula re­forms that Mas­sachusetts and Cal­i­for­nia have pur­sued, and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should fully en­force the fundinge­quity pro­vi­sions in Every Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act (ESSA).”

No. 1 sounds like the NAACP (or the unions) wants all states and lo­cal­i­ties to im­ple­ment a uni­form, na­tion­wide school fund­ing for­mula — a scary thought when you con­sider such sim­ple facts as some stu­dents be­ing bira­cial.

How would that work for “stu­dents of color”? Would it mean, for ex­am­ple, that only the black half or His­panic half or Pa­cific Is­lan­der half of a stu­dent is funded?

As for No. 2, such a man­date is prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble. States like Idaho, Hawaii and the Com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia, for ex­am­ple, can’t be ex­pected to foot the same ed­u­ca­tion costs.

All this non­sense came about be­cause of the NAACP’s at­tempt to trash school choice in gen­eral and pub­lic char­ters in par­tic­u­lar, and to bol­ster the NAACP’s pro­file in the tra­di­tion­alschools-only move­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately, the NAACP loses some cred­i­bil­ity. (The civil rights group also gains a dunce cap in the process, as the Na­tional Re­view sur­mises in a piece head­lined “The NAACP’s In­ept Vendetta against Char­ter Schools.”)

This is a true mis­for­tune for the NAACP, the lead­ing voice that fought tooth and nail to de­seg­re­gate Amer­ica’s pub­lic schools and won in the his­toric Brown v. Board of Ed­u­ca­tion class-ac­tion law­suit in 1954.

Since then, pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion has come a very, very long way — and our na­tion’s sys­tem of pub­lic school­ing has made mea­sur­able strides.

Sure, there were com­mu­ni­ties above and be­low the Ma­son-Dixon line that didn’t want to de­seg­re­gate their pub­lic schools, and the bus­ing pro­grams ag­i­tated that prob­lem.

But a few things are cer­tain these days: Amer­ica’s par­ents are aboard the school choice buses, and they aren’t get­ting off.

A full 82 per­cent of black par­ents fa­vor school choice, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 na­tion­wide poll by the Braun Re­search Inc.

Also, when it comes to high school grad­u­a­tion rates among black stu­dents in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, con­sider the score: char­ter stu­dents, 73 per­cent; tra­di­tional stu­dents, 62 per­cent.

The NAACP gets con­sid­er­able credit for try­ing to re­store the tenor of voice on pub­lic school­ing.

It should re­mem­ber, though, times have changed since 1954, and that char­ter schools — like pri­vate schools and mag­net — are here to stay for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Bat­tling school vouch­ers is one thing. Unions won’t sup­port them, so the NAACP isn’t ex­pected to ei­ther.

Yet what the NAACP should do is re­mind its mem­bers and sup­port­ers that the “A” in NAACP stands for “Ad­vance­ment.”

That is the mis­sion.

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