Parental choice is often portrayed as a partisan political issue. A growing debate in California, however, proves that it’s not an issue of right versus left but right versus wrong.
Two years ago the National NAACP passed a resolution supporting a moratorium on public charter schools, and this year the California State NAACP co-sponsored legislation that would have stopped new charter schools from opening for the next two years. While that bill has stalled, other bills are in the works to stymie the expansion of charter schools in California.
Not all NAACP members agree with the moratorium. In fact, three California branches have submitted separate resolutions opposing the move, including the San Bernardino Branch.
Joette Spencer Campbell is a member of that branch and chairs the Concerned African American Parent Alliance of San Bernardino. Spencer Campbell was also a classified employee of the San Bernardino Unified School District for over 25 years. As she explains:
I am an NAACP member, mother of three, grandmother of seven, aunt of 14 and an advocate for all African American children, whom my school district consistently and persistently fails. I believe the NAACP should be suing the state of California for “educational malpractice” on behalf of African American students statewide. Instead, they are on the wrong side of a debate about parental choice.
Specifically, Spencer Campbell notes that:
California’s traditional, government-run public schools have a terrible track with Black students. Test scores from 2018 showed a full 80% of Black kids in California can’t do math at grade level and 68% can’t read or write at grade level. That failure to educate our children leads to incarceration and other problems that continue to plague our community.
Opposition to parental choice may be popular in certain powerful political circles, but it’s increasingly anathema to people like Spencer Campbell who are fighting for civil rights:
Recently, I heard someone suggest Black kids are the new cotton being harvested for unions’ public school funding. I agree, and I’m sick of it. While the NAACP’s alignment with organized labor may square with blue state Democratic politics, it doesn’t jive with the needs of African American children, who are being failed by the very system the unions are protecting. Unions are driving an “adults first” agenda to eliminate charter schools and protect their monopoly over public education, regardless of the fact that the schools they control don’t serve Black children well.
Spencer Campbell sums up her, and many others’, growing frustration with school politics as usual:
I don’t expect more from the unions, but I do from the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights group. …Enough is enough.