The recent rallies and counterrallies in Sacramento around charter schools, physically mirrored what the recent national polling shows. There, you saw parades of apparently mostly White, and certainly not majority Black and Brown teachers marching against charters, while largely Black charter families protested to keep the limited choices they have.
It’s a weird juxtaposition, the people who are supposed to be getting served in the public schools, marching against the people that are supposed to serve them. And I know its not that simple. And it is the ultimate okey doke to have two broke ass public school sectors marching against each other in the richest state in the richest country in the history of the world.
Bamboozling aside, let’s look at the latest poll numbers and see who is for and against charters, how that mirrors the marchers, and why it matters.
Survey Says- Black and Latino Voters like Charters, White Democrats Don’t
This polling data from Democrats for Education Reform shows a clear racial divide on who supports charters and who doesn’t. Democratic primary voters overall had a slightly negative view of charters (51% unfavorable, 37% support), but when you break it down by race, Black (58% favorable to 38%) and Hispanic (52% favorable to 30%) voters lean strongly towards charters and Whites rail against (26% to 62%). You can see the charts at the end of this blog.
If you are an “equity warrior princess” and you find yourself marching with mostly White folks against mostly Black and Latinx folks, maybe you should check your membership card. And don’t give me some nonsense about how they don’t know or they are being duped—as I often hear—and really think about what you are saying. We don’t need no Whitesplaining on school choice—we live it every day—and neither public school sector is really serving us.
But we are better served by having options—options like most of the folks marching against charters likely have.
Why Families of Color Support Charters
In many cases, neighborhood schools are not working, charters may not either, but they may. It’s often the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. When we look at Oakland data at the elementary level both sectors are failing to support Black children, 15% of charter kids read on grade level, 14% of district kids did in the last side by side comparison. So, nobody is getting it done, but families need choices to try to do the best they can.
At the high school level, for Black and Latinx students, charters overall produce much better outcomes. Now, we can and should argue about whether these are the same students, looking at data. But we can’t deny the numbers themselves. And if I am a parent of an 8th grader, yeah I got some tough choices. So, look at these numbers, and who is being served and who isn’t. And if you are against charters—what are you practically going to offer these families, besides a big bag of bullshit about “great neighborhood schools in every neighborhood,” that never materialize. Mystic transformations that Black and Brown parents should just wait and wait for, while your kids (if you have them) are up in the Hills.
To any parent, would you send your child to a school where they had a less than 25% chance of being college ready. Think about that and think about what you are asking other parents who actually are in that position.