NAACP wants to improve charter schools

An NAACP task force that spent several months traveling the country learning about charter schools has released a report with the group’s conclusions. The report comes less than a year after the civil rights organization passed a controversial resolution calling for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools.

The report does not explicitly address how task force members feel about the October 2016 resolution, but instead provides ideas for how both charter schools and traditional schools should improve. The report calls on the NAACP to create a plan of action and a new coalition of groups to push back on charter schools’ perceived lack of accountability.

The report notes that while charter schools were created to act as labs of innovation and share their best ideas with public schools, “this aspect of the promise never materialized.”

Over 3 million children in the U.S., about a third of whom are Black, currently attend charter schools. In its previous call for a moratorium on expansion, the NAACP expressed concerns that charters perpetuate segregation, subject students to overly harsh discipline practices, divert funding away from traditional public schools and face weak oversight. The new report does not back down from these assertions.

At the same time, the report also levels judgment on the traditional public school system for its shortcomings.

One of the report’s recommendations is the full elimination of for-profit charter schools.

“The widespread findings of misconduct and poor student performance in for-profit charter schools, demands the elimination of these schools,” said the NAACP report.

The report maintains that some charter schools serve students well, although quality is highly uneven based on location. “Even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education in communities that serve all children,” the report said.

The report recommends that states create tougher standards for authorizing and renewing charter schools, while monitoring whether such schools are taking pains to serve all students and not just pushing out the vulnerable ones. It also recommends states hold charter schools to the same level of fiscal transparency as they hold traditional public schools.