Black America’s Education Crisis

... and what you can do about it

The Choice is Yours

President Barack Obama greets graduates, some overcome with emotion, before he delivers the commencement address at the Booker T. Washington High School graduation at Cook Convention

In some cities, such as Detroit and New Orleans, new laws have given mayors the autonomy to close low-performing schools in an effort to increase school choice. The concept of school choice has existed since the ’50s, when white families unsuccessfully sought to elude the Supreme Court’s Brown v. The Board of Education ruling with school vouchers, government funds that parents can apply to private schools. More recently, the call for school choice has come from inner cities, minority families, low-income communities, and rural towns where there are more drop-out factories than schools that excel.

In its newest incarnation, school choice has become associated with charter schools, which are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that also receive financial support from private organizations and/or foundations. Charters have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools and in some cases the teachers are not required to join the teachers union. In exchange, charters are expected to produce certain results, which are delineated in each school’s charter.

In the past 20 years, numerous charter organizations—from KIPP to Green Dot Public Schools and Stand for Children—have worked to expose the inequities in our nation’s public schools and to mitigate the challenges that poverty brings. Some cities are replacing or co-locating traditional public schools with charter schools.

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