The Black Alliance for Educational Options, a nearly 20-year-old advocacy group founded by school choice leader Howard Fuller, has announced that big organizational changes are on the way.
But what exactly those changes will look like is unclear, in part because, according to BAEO spokesman Troy Donté Prestwood, the organization plans to hold what it’s calling a national innovation contest in May to come up with ideas to reshape—or even replace—the organization.
In the meantime, BAEO will continue to be led by its president, Jacqueline Cooper, and its state directors in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Louisiana. Absent from that list is the Alabama office, which was recently shut down.
Prestwood said that although BAEO will remain active at the national level, it will be more limited, and that there will likely be staff changes in the national office as a result.
“We will stay engaged in the national conversation, staying active on social media, attending key national conferences and we will continue our existing partnerships during 2016,” said Prestwood in an interview. “We are hoping we will have a new BAEO in 2017—the idea is to evolve into a new BAEO.”
In a somewhat opaque letter to “friends and supporters of BAEO” posted on the website, Fuller (who’s chairman emeritus of the group’s board) wrote that the changes are the result of the organization reaching a “tipping point” and that it is time to “seize the moment to change.”
Although Fuller said there is still advocacy work to be done on behalf of low-income and working-class black families, he pointed out that there are more school choice advocacy groups than when BAEO first started, more black people in important positions within white-led groups in the same communities that BAEO is active in, and that the “leadership and focus” of some of BAEO’s funders has also changed.
I encourage readers to check out the full letter here.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.