This morning, a coalition of seven civil rights organizations, released a framework for education reform that takes on many of the hallmark programs of the Obama administration's policies.
The coalition argues that the path blazed by the President and the Department of Education, centered on creating more charter schools and competition between the states for federal funds via the Race to the Top program, threatens to leave behind-low income and minority kids. Among the groups who joined in offering a different tack for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind are the NAACP, Rainbow PUSH, and the National Urban League. A recent survey of the revamped New Orleans school system, which relies heavily on charter schools, seems to support the groups' argument.
Valerie Strauss made a crib sheet that shows a point-by-point account of exactly what the civil rights organizations are taking issue with on her blog The Answer Sheet over at The Washington Post. She also offers her own handy summary to what the gist of the 17-page document is:
Dear President Obama, you say you believe in an equal education for all students, but you are embarking on education policies that will never achieve that goal and that can do harm to America’s school children, especially its neediest. Stop before it is too late.\n
According to Education Week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded to the coalition's alternative framework soon after its release:
The administration is dedicated to equity in education and we've been working very closely with the civil rights community to develop the most effective policies to close the achievement gap, turn around low performing schools, and put a good teacher in every classroom. The civil rights community has thoughtfully helped guide our thinking on these critical issues and we need their continued leadership as we move forward to overhaul NCLB.\n
Given that the second round of Race to the Top funding is about to be awarded and that states are going crazy lifting charter caps and falling in line behind national Common Core Standards, are these concerns being voiced too late in the game?