Video: Dispelling False Narratives about Charters and Public Education

Schott President & CEO Dr. John H. Jackson spoke at a recent forum at Howard University on public education & charter schools, hosted and moderated by Roland Martin:

"There will always be battles. But not much is accomplished through battles, it's when we come together. For example, dispelling false narratives. The narrative that our public school system has failed the African-American community is a false narrative." Dr. Jackson then asked the audience to hold up their hands if they had attended a public high school — a majority did.

"Howard University, one of the greatest institutions in our country, and the majority of those here graduated from a public school. So let's start there. Does that not mean that we need to make some gains? No. It does mean that we need to address the issue, but it's a false narrative. The narrative starts because when most people talk about whether it's a good school or bad school, they're talking about tests. Now there's clear data that says that whether or not a student performs well on their test has as much to do with what happens outside of the school than what happens inside the school."

"So if you have a system where there's clear economic disparities, the public school system is only going to emulate those. If students are going to school and they're hungry, if students are going to school and they can't access counselors, let's talk about those things. So the question is not whether or not choice is a Black choice, the question is why choice only a Black choice? Because in white communities, they're not met with that decision because they have the counselors, they have the resources and everything."

You can see more of Dr. Jackson's remarks in this video, starting at 8:15:

Dr. Jackson also recently co-wrote an open letter on Massachusetts' Question 2 ballot initiative, which would dramatically increase the number of charters:

Public schools and an equal commitment to all children are pillars of our democratic system. Accountability has been rooted in local control ever since Massachusetts pioneered the first statewide system focused on all children when it instituted compulsory K-12 education in 1852.

Charters run directly counter to this democratic value. The state can approve a charter school in a community over the strong objection of the school committee and all the other locally elected officials who are accountable to the voters in that town. Only the state, not any local officials, can examine the finances or exercise oversight over charter schools. As for their private boards, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s study of Massachusetts charter schools revealed that many board members do not even live in the district where the charter is located; 31% are financial or corporate executives, while only 14% are parents; 60% of charters in our state have no parent representation at all.

Read the rest of the open letter >