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Local NAACP Leader Defies Own Group, Supports New Florida Charter School

It's not racist to want access to school choice. It's racist to deny it.

SchoolMonkey Business Images / DreamstimeSomebody should ask American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten if it's racist for a bunch of Latino and African-American parents to band together to transform their ailing local public middle school into a charter program.

That's exactly what's happening in Manatee County, Florida. Parents and staff (and teachers!) at Lincoln Memorial Middle School in Palmetto voted earlier in the year to begin the process of changing the school into a charter program.

This week Manatee County's school board approved the transformation by a vote of 4–1. Starting with the 2018–2019 school year, the place will become Lincoln Memorial Academy.

The school, the Bradenton Herald notes, was founded in the 1940s as a segregated high school serving the community's black students. It's more diverse these days—about 48 percent Hispanic, 28 percent African-American, and 20 percent white. According to demographic data, a full 100 percent of the students there qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Its test scores and overall performance, unfortunately, are not great. The school ranks worse than 84 percent of the middle schools in Florida.

The staff of the school believe that transforming into a charter will allow them to do more. If their budget plan holds up, the school plans to actually add an hour of education to the school day.

Weingarten drew a lot of media attention last month by using her bully pulpit to dismiss school choice as a tool of racists. In a blatant attempt at guilt by association, she pointed to ways some Southerners in the Jim Crow era tried to use school privatization to avoid sending their kids to school with black folks.

But it's 2017, not 1960. Hundreds of thousands of minority families are taking advantage of school choice now. Weingarten and those who have a financial stake in maintaining control over the school system cannot and will not acknowledge that reality. It would be akin to admitting that they have protected the interests of teachers over the education needs of families and students.

Somehow these interests have convinced the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to accept the misbegotten idea that access to charter schools and choice is harming African-America kids, despite the considerable evidence otherwise, and the group has been demanding a moratorium. Black advocates of school choice have been speaking out against the NAACP's decision, but the organization has been holding strong on its position.

Awkwardly, the national organization may not even have the support of some of its own local chapters. Rodney Jones, the president of NAACP's Manatee County chapter, attended the school board meeting this week to declare his support for the charter transformation.

This shouldn't be a surprise. These local chapters are full of people who live in these communities. They see what school choice and charter programs can do to place the emphasis back on serving students and away from shielding entrenched bureaucratic interests like the American Federation of Teachers.

The Florida school choice outlet redefinED spoke with Jones, who explained why he turned away from the NAACP's formal position: "We are seeing kids go astray. They should be allowed the opportunity to give the child the best opportunity of success that they can possibly have. They will provide a very unique cultural experience for these students that they will not get anywhere else."

The NAACP's position is fundamentally at odds with the experiences of many, many minority families in their own communities.

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime

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  • Hank Stamper||

    Its time for the NAACP to transfer its focus to more of the Tuskegee institute school of thought. Until then it will continue to get behind poor policies for its members/constituents. Political power is important but economic power will lead to the outcomes they desire.

  • Jerryskids||

    Economic power and political power are intertwined - ever seen any statistics on what percentage of the black middle class got there via government paychecks? Everybody thinks black voters vote overwhelmingly Democrat because they favor government programs for poor black people when the truth is they favor government programs for middle class black people - the black people hired to administer the government programs.

  • Jerryskids||

    Notice what's missing from this list of things civil servants care about:

    Now enter corporatist Donald Trump, with plans for a full-blown dismantling of everything near and dear to civil servants: reduced benefits and pensions; easy ways to get folks fired; mass federal-hiring freezes; eliminating unions in the agencies; and—the biggest of them all—the fall of the grade-based automatic pay raise.

    That's right, the interests of the public they supposedly serve.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    and—the biggest of them all—the fall of the grade-based automatic pay raise

    The stupidest system of merit in all the land. Somehow ends up being worse than just purely based on if your boss likes you.

  • BYODB||

    The NAACP is about keeping their 'brothers' under their thumb, dumb, and poor so they can continue to live large. Full stop. It's a racist organization from top to bottom.

  • Lexicon B'Devil||

    There is no coherent definition of racist/racism that could justifiably applied to the NAACP. They have problems but being racist is not one of them. Please stop throwing that word around like it means nothing.

  • Longtobefree||

    The name
    The membership rolls
    Programs only for specific races
    Awards only for specific races
    A national board of 50 members with 2 Caucasians
    A four person officer list that is entirely one race

    What coherent definition of racism would NOT include such an organization?

  • ||

    "But it's ok because it's "reverse" racism!!" the ideology based on proggy logic and marxist critical race theory

  • ||

    Monkey Business Images? So, so racist.

  • Ken Hagler||

    "Somebody should ask American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten if it's racist for a bunch of Latino and African-American parents to band together to transform their ailing local public middle school into a charter program."

    No need. Anyone who's been paying attention to anything the mainstream media says already knows that anything the Democratic Party doesn't approve of (including better schools) is automatically racist.

  • Rhywun||

    actually add an hour of education to the school day

    I never got this fetish. Of all the things wrong with our schools, "not long enough" is not one of them. I just translates to "throw more money at it" and is equally useless.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    My guess is it's because other countries have longer school days and 6 day school weeks. They then assume that's the deciding factor.

    Also, an hour longer school day means teacher's get paid more for not a whole lot more work, and parents get tax assisted babysitting for more of the day.

    The biggest question is, why does school tend to start early in the day and let out late in the day. Why is it not 9-5 as well?

  • Rhywun||

    other countries have longer school days and 6 day school weeks

    I suppose there are some.

    I can only speak to Germany which is not one of them and I think they do pretty well. The day is shorter than here. THere was no Saturday school in my area although it did exist in some other regions.

  • Rhywun||

    The biggest question is, why does school tend to start early in the day and let out late in the day. Why is it not 9-5 as well?

    9 is early? My school was 7:30 to 2. After that was sports and other activities, or work as I got older.

  • Rhywun||

    Actually, I don't think I understood your question :)
    Anyway I offered a reason why it doesn't end at 5.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And my point wasn't that either more school days or longer days are an actual solution. Just that it's an easy thing for reformers to note, and implement. Because oftentimes the most important things is to the appearance of work, rather than success of results.

  • H. Farnham||

    Some schools are actually moving to a longer school day and shorter school week. It saves districts a decent amount of money with, so far, no noticeable drop in education metrics.

    Interestingly enough though, one of the biggest complaints is that parents have to provide for the care of their children an extra day of the week rather than having government institutions bare the responsibility.

    http://www.koamtv.com/story/30.....chool-week

    (I don't know how to hyperlink, you'll have to copy/paste)

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Hyperlink is like this:

    < a href="Put the URL you want in here" > Put the text you want hyperlinked in here < /a >

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So your link would look something like this

    < a href="http://www. koamtv.com/st ory/30067165/ southeast-kan sas-school-district-m oves-toward-fou r-day-school-w eek" > Parents don't want to watch their damned kids < /a >

    I added spaces, because Reason's commenting system is fragile and makes unreasonable demands on us poor commentators.

  • H. Farnham||

    Hey thanks!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    The NAACP's position is fundamentally at odds with the experiences of many, many minority families in their own communities.

    It's cute that you think the NAACP's top leadership is in it for their communities.

  • ||

    They're in it for the communities, just not the communities we're assuming

  • Gozer the Gozarian||

    Anything "national" will never serve the needs of the "local". Fuck all of those national fuckers,

  • ||

    "We are seeing kids go astray." ?? Wow, what a vague, misrepresentation of the failure of public ed. Kids are not being prepared for life by being forced to be warehoused, bored, and taught regimentation as if this was education. It is indoctrination in state propaganda, e.g., obedience to authority is good and makes a good citizen. Graduation is like getting out of jail with no money, no skills, no self esteem, and no self confidence.

    Kids don't need "a unique cultural experience." They need to learn to think for themselves. Once they have mastered all the cognitive skills they will be ready to go out into the world and create value, at their pace, on their terms.

    This will mean they will leave school at varying ages, by their decision. No degrees are needed. No certificates. No authoritarian controls. By current cultural standards they will be "out of control" individuals, not zombie citizens.

  • Radioactive||

    every one know, zombies & brains don't mix...

  • patskelley||

    It's cause smart, capable and well-skilled children threaten the status quo. All the better to make moderately dull, incapable and low-skilled children...who will be satisfied with less.

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