In a Wall Street Journal column today on the controversy surrounding the NAACP joining the New York City teachers union in an anti-charter school lawsuit, William McGurn writes:
For those who understand that our big city public school systems have become jobs programs for teachers and administrators, the NAACP’s response makes perfect sense. That’s because there are many African-American teachers in these systems, many of whom presumably belong to the NAACP … The NAACP is doing in New York what the United Federation of Teachers is doing, and for the same reason: protecting the interests of its members.
In an entry on redefinED last fall I discussed why middle-class African Americans feel such loyalty toward school districts and why this loyalty is fraying in Florida. Thanks to a variety of parental empowerment programs in Florida, African-American educators and local community activists are increasingly opening up financially-viable schools, and as these publicly funded private schools provide more middle-class teaching jobs, the middle class African-American community — which includes African-American politicians — is embracing them.
If the NAACP and New York City teachers union were more enlightened, they would understand that a centralized, command-and-control public education system is not in the best interests of teachers, parents, students or taxpayers. A public education system that empowers educators and local communities to create their own schools and empowers parents to match their children with the schools that best meet their needs is the best path to equal educational opportunity. Unfortunately both the NAACP and New York City teachers union are on the wrong side of history.