Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Not for Academics Alone

By Walt Gardner — June 05, 2011 2 min read

When the NAACP joined a lawsuit brought by the United Federation of Teachers to prevent the closure of 22 public schools and stop the growth of 19 charter schools in New York City, the news was greeted with disbelief (“The NAACP’s mystifying decision to side with a union over students,” editorial, The Washington Post, June 2).

That’s because the schools affected are overwhelmingly failing black students. For example, at the Academy for Collaborative Education, which is earmarked for closing, only 3 percent of students were performing at grade level in English last year, and only 9 percent in math. Why would the NAACP, which has a long history of fighting for a high quality education, take this step?

The answer came partly in an op-ed by Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP (“Why the NAACP is suing New York,” The Washington Post, June 3). He explained that charter schools are being given preferential treatment in buildings they share with traditional public schools, and that parents are not being given an opportunity to voice their concerns about closings as required by New York State law.

It’s the latter point that warrants elaboration. According to The Wall Street Journal (“NAACP vs. Black Parents,” editorial, June 4), “thousands” of black parents held a rally in Harlem to protest the NAACP’s decision. Whether that count is accurate and whether the parents represent the feelings of all black parents are both debatable. But what is clear is that parental satisfaction with schools is not necessarily limited to academic performance.

In Oct. 2005, the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education reported that parents frequently opt for schools based on holistic, social, logistic and administrative factors. Academics is not consistently No. 1 on their list, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

Then in May 2009, a study of academic quality in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. schools based on interviews with parents, students and faculty found that just because parents expressed satisfaction with a school does not necessarily mean students are learning much.

In light of these two studies, it is altogether possible that black parents in New York City feel the same way about the schools scheduled to be shuttered. They have the right to choose any school they believe best meets the needs and interests of their children. They may be misguided in not making academic achievement their primary consideration, but that is their prerogative. We need to respect it.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read