Rann Miller, writing at Alternet (and Salon), explains why the NAACP finally stepped up and demanded accountability for and oversight of charter schools. Miller directs the 21st Century Learning Center in southern New Jersey. He taught at a charter school in Camden, New Jersey, for six years.

Miller writes that the NAACP recognizes that charter schools are a way for state officials to abandon accountability for black and brown children.

“The conversation about the failings of public education is worth having. However, too many folks are missing the larger point that the NAACP is making: state governments must be held accountable for the education of Black and Brown children. School privatization has allowed state governments to avoid their obligation to educate children of color, especially poor children. The erosion of the public commitment to educating all kids is sadly ironic when you consider that it was Black people who pushed hardest to make free public education a reality for all.

“Here is what the abandonment of the public responsibility for educating all kids looks like. State policymakers declare themselves fed up with overseeing underperforming public schools in poor Black and Brown neighborhoods. Some policymakers, at the behest of their constituents, rather than seeking solutions to improve these schools, tell families that the schools are so bad that they can’t be improved. Families are then told that “experts” will be invited to improve the education of their children. This “strategy” takes the burden of educating poor children of color off of the state, which many believe is a waste of tax money considering the continuous underperformance of city schools. This strategy also paints education policymakers in an innovative light; they look as though they are thinking outside the box to attack a problem largely created as a result of the state’s own negligence.

“According to the NAACP task force, charter schools are exacerbating racial segregation, a topic that critics of the civil rights group have been largely dismissive of. The larger issue is that outsourcing the education of students of color abandons the spirit of integration. School choice and the proliferation of charter schools prevent people of color from holding state governments to the obligation required of them as per Brown v. Board of Education. The NAACP report documents the consequences of this abandonment: inadequate funding of urban schools, a lack of accountability and oversight for charter school, most of which are concentrated in urban communities, the disproportionate exclusionary discipline of Black students, high teacher turnover, and an absence of teachers of color in both charters and traditional public schools.”

Relinquishing the responsibility for educating children of color to the private sector is not an answer to the needs of children, families, and schools.