Why Black Families Support Charter Schools; Evidence from the Latest Survey

Black families are more dissatisfied with their neighborhood school options than other groups, and the more segregated the neighborhood, the more dissatisfied they are.

Those were two big takeaways highlighted in a recent Brookings Institute summary of a new survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The data provide strong background for the consistent Black support for charter schools.

Let’s be clear this isn’t because of some magic in the word “charter.” Many charters underserve and disserve Black families in the same way many district schools do, and in the way that society does. But given the fact that we tend to have lower-performing neighborhood schools, many of our families hustle for the best options they can access, with little care about the governance model. They just want a good school that treats them with respect, pretty simple.

Survey Says

But before we dig into what the numbers mean let’s take a look at them.

Looking even deeper into the data, Brookings found a disturbing trend, only 8% of Black families in majority Black neighborhoods thought their local school was better than other schools—8%, shit 8% of Black folks voted for Trump. There are actually some great schools in Black neighborhoods, but if you ask Black parents, there aren’t a lot of them.

8%, let that sink in.

As they explained on the Brookings blog:

Furthermore, African-Americans’ perceptions of public school quality vary depending on whether or not respondents live in a majority-Black neighborhood. Among African-Americans who say they live in a majority-Black neighborhood, only 8 percent say that the quality of public schools is better where they live. African-Americans living in nonmajority-Black neighborhoods are more than three times more likely (26 percent) to say the quality of their local public schools is better than in other places to live.

Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea

If you ask us, we don’t think we have equal neighborhood schools, and that means we need choices. And charters have not solved our educational woes, vouchers probably won’t, and I don’t see any great move by the more privileged to integrate into our schools. It really is just us, as it has always been, trying to do our best by our kids.

And until the Hills liberals realize that they aren’t standing in the moccasins of Black, Latino and Native families—nor will they, unless they want to trade their kid’s spot for one in the Flatlands—they should focus more on making the system fairer, and less on lecturing Black and Brown parents about their hustle for something better and working to shut off options for them.

What do you think?