NAACP got it right in charter school debate

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 6/21/2011, 3:15 p.m.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that countless numbers of charter schools that have cropped up in recent years on the public dime have been miserable failures.

Several studies have shown that test scores and achievement levels of charter students aren’t much higher than those of students in public schools. Many charters are staffed by woefully unprepared and incompetent teachers and run by clueless administrators. These failed schools have dashed the hopes of tens of thousands of black and Latino parents who have looked to charters to be the miracle cure for their children’s miserable underachievement.

Charter supporters have attacked these studies as limited in scope and biased, but the studies have been fairly broad based and their authors have had no ties to teachers unions. The NAACP, in defending its decision to file suit, did not point to these studies to make a case against charter schools.

Jealous, in fact, insisted that charter schools do have a place in the educational arena for minority students. His point was that the elevation of charters should not come at the expense of public schools. No matter how well charters perform, the bitter reality is that public schools will always be the first and only choice for the vast majority of black and Latino students.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally syndicated columnist.