New York Daily News
The NAACP enters an unholy alliance: It's fighting charter schools rather than supporting them
By Stanley Crouch
Excessive pay raises and benefits can corrupt unions. This fact does not invalidate their existence, but entitlements can become more important than doing a good job. A prime example is the United Federation of Teachers, which is more concerned with the security of its members than the quality of their performance.
In an irrational dance, the UFT and the NAACP have filed a suit against New York City aimed at stopping some charter schools, which for the most part don't use unionized teachers, from sharing space with district public schools.
Parents and visionary education reformers like Geoffrey Canada spoke out against the suit in a Harlem gathering. One parent asked, "Why is the NAACP trying to block access to a better education for my child?"
The suit is proof of how low a great civil rights organization has fallen since its days of advocating for racial equality in the face of tremendous hatred.
At no point in the past would one have expected the NAACP to try to halt the creation of schools that have helped so many black children succeed. As Canada and others have pointed out, the suit threatens the schooling of thousands of children in New York.
There is plenty of resistance to the nonsensical suit, and I've heard about rumblings of discontent from among some of the organization's corporate sponsors. This includes distancing themselves from the once-loved champion of an embattled black community that benefited from the work of W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall, among others.
That's how things work in America today: Corporations judge the entities they support on how well they have created - and maintained - an image of public good. Once the community begins to question an organization's actions, muck begins to hit the fan. That is what the NAACP has done by joining up with the UFT in this misguided action.
There it is.
The NAACP significantly shifted the American racial consciousness in 1954 when it won the Brown vs. Board of Education decision before the Supreme Court. This began a systematic dismantling of Southern segregation once and for all.
So what has happened since? Not knowing when to hold or when to fold, the NAACP refuses to look at public education with any kind of nuance. If it did, it would understand that the UFT and its allies are only hurting the push for fair schools that began with the Brown victory more than a half-century earlier.
Instead of aligning with the UFT to squash charters, the NAACP should sue the UFT for refusing to allow for the fair evaluation of teachers. This most often leads to the very worst teachers staffing schools in minority neighborhoods.
Poor teaching performance is dismissed or explained away with the position that everything will be just fine if teachers are paid more money and given more benefits. The UFT does not admit to its members' inferiority, even if test scores and graduation rates stay stagnant.
Charter schools aren't unionized, which to them is the whole problem. They are able to retain good teachers but fire bad ones. As a result, charter leaders like Canada and Eva Moskowitz, both based in Harlem, are able to focus on results, not the kind of ideological loyalty that makes the UFT an enemy of our children's future.
To believe otherwise would be like accepting an explanation for why oxen never win the Kentucky Derby. Spending more money on them (the UFT solution) will not solve the problem. Oxen will never win. Thoroughbreds are called for - both at the races and in our public schools. The UFT may never realize this, but if the NAACP wants to stay relevant, it must.
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