Friday Reading List: Try Listening

To start the morning, Naomi Nix has a piece analyzing a new NAACP resolution that, if adopted, would suggest changes to charter schooling:

The newest resolution, a copy of which was first posted on the Cloaking Inequity blog, calls for legislation that would put parents on the advisory boards of charter schools and strengthen the investigative powers of government agencies that oversee them. In the proposed resolution, the NAACP delegates cited concerns that charter schools  deepen the segregation of public schools, disproportionately use highly punitive or exclusionary discipline practices and deprive public schools of resources ... The idea that charter schools harm the students who remain in the traditional public schools is not supported by research but there is evidence that charter expansion can have negative impacts on school districts’ finances.

There's a political dimension to the pushback, but there also are legitimate concerns about the face of "education reform" in marginalized communities. Those concerns extend to other major civil rights organizations and initiatives. Unfortunately, some education reform advocates have an oversimplified view of both policy and politics:

 

 

Large swaths of communities of color apparently have legitimate concerns about education reform principles. An appropriate response might be to listen to those concerns. But, I guess the conservative wing of education reform has other priorities right now. 

 

Here's a more productive idea: listen to the perspectives of Black educators! Ikhlas Saleem shares the highlights of a conversation with #BlackMaleEducators:

Currently, Black males represent only 2% of the teaching force. Only 2%! That’s a problem. And as one of our featured participants, Chicago Public Schools Principal Robert Croston, says, “The need for more Black male teachers is not just a Black student’s need; it is an American student’s need.”

It's too simplistic to pigeonhole diversity as an urban phenomenon, because as Alexander Russo points out, America's suburbs are rapidly becoming less White:

Today more than one-third of all suburban residents are people of color. At the same time, suburban districts are least likely to offer choices to parents. And yet, “there’s less conversation about suburban schools, inner- and outer-ring suburbs.” What’s being missed, [L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy] says, is that board members, district leaders, and school heads are more likely to be white than the communities they’re serving. The district demographics have changed, but the district hasn’t kept up. This is especially true for inner-ring suburbs near big cities. “They’re now majority minority, with significant numbers of poor people, but local control has not flipped,” notes Lewis-McCoy. “So you have predominantly white leaders governing Black and poor students.”

Whether in the cities or suburbs, it is untenable to have institutions that serve communities of color without having those communities represented in the governance of those institutions. This is not a complicated idea, and yet many educators struggle to internalize the challenge. Let's do better at this. Have a great weekend!