NUL President Responds to Wall Street Journal Article About African Americans and Charter Schools

Aug 4, 2010

Editor, Wall Street Journal:

Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West are mistaken about the National Urban League’s position on charter schools (“African-Americans for Charter Schools,” Aug. 3).  To be perfectly clear, the National Urban League wholeheartedly supports high quality charter schools and the outcomes they produce for our nation's children. Many of our affiliates, in fact, successfully operate charter schools and many others are interested in pursuing this important educational innovation in their local communities.

In a list of recommendations to the Obama Administration for educational reform - which unfortunately was distributed prematurely last week - the National Urban League and other civil rights organizations suggested that charter schools be employed “as accountable laboratories of innovation, rather than systemic reform prescriptions.”

While some charter schools can and do work for some students, they are not a universal solution for systemic change for all students, especially those with the highest needs and should not be forwarded as the sole useful reform above all others. Additional reforms we support include the innovative use of learning time, the adoption and implementation of common curricular and resource standards, ensuring equitable access to high quality teachers and content and meaningful family and community engagement. In fact, it is only in combination that any educational reforms will have meaningful positive impacts for students.

There is nothing in the document or any other statements from the National Urban League or any of the other civil rights organizations to suggest we “collectively condemned charter schools.”

The National Urban League is working cooperatively with the Obama Administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to craft an educational reform plan that will guarantee equal educational opportunities for every child in the United States.

 Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League