Op-ed by: Bertha M. Lewis
The gig is up. Since the charter school experiment continues to fail as the panacea for the education of our children, their proponents have nothing left to attack.
We who advocate for Black and Latino children are used to facing. But attack Hazel Dukes and the NAACP? They should be ashamed of themselves. Clearly proponents of separate and unequal education Eva and Michelle continue to squeeze their friends into public school space in order to have our tax dollars supplement the for profit goals of the charter school movement.
The disgraceful attacks on Hazel Dukes and the NAACP shows just how intolerant and disrespectful the charter school advocates can be when you do not bow down to their demands. The NAACP has been fighting for children of color for generations and they have every right to join the UFT in opposing the separate and unequal practice of co locating charters in public school buildings. Whether you are for or against Charter schools they do not have the right to bully their way into public school buildings, buildings that all happen to be in black and brown school districts. The Department of Education is a co- conspirator and just as guilty of this form of Predatory Education as the “Waiting for Superman” crowd. It was not enough to relentlessly bash the teachers union, but now they are bashing one of the most venerable civil rights organizations in the nation. It is as if these charter school supporters try and make us believe that they are the only ones who truly care about our kids. Only they lack an alternate agenda or self-interest.
Once the DOE decided to increase the number of charter schools, what was the plan to locate them? Their answer is loud and clear. They attack public school parents and their children, close their schools, move in and take over space in the ones the DOE cannot close and no one better push back on those plans. How dare these people demand that the NAACP drop out of the lawsuit brought by the UFT and the NAACP but also by the parents of the children affected. Are the charter school bullies going to demand that the parents drop their concerns as well? Will some nefarious motives be placed on them too? Will they just try to invalidate their concerns as well? The bullies say that it is just mind over matter, they don’t mind because public school parents, the NAACP, the UFT and anyone else that does not worship them don’t matter.
It seems the only thing that will slow these folks down is when they achieve their ultimate goal- the steady march toward the privatization of our education system. Of course this will lead to the unprecedented profits to be made by their hedge fund buddies. They say ‘let the market reign.’ They say, ‘we are the saviors of children and only they and only they have the answer to educating our children’. These, for profit initiatives, want carte blanche for whatever they do.
It seems pretty evident that the charter school bullies did not know who they were messing with when they decided to attack Hazel Dukes. That woman is bully proof. If you want to challenge the lawsuit, then make your case on the merits, go to court and file your amicus brief on behalf of the DOE, but do not think that you will get your way by bullying the NAACP. Do not think that the fight for public schools and public school education for all our children will go away because someone yells the word ‘charter’ louder. Show some respect for the parents and students that you claim to be concerned about. Apologize to Ms. Dukes and the NAACP now.