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DeVos, charters, & ‘school choice’ hurt African American children

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and charter school operators have denounced the NAACP’s opposition to charter school expansion, arguing that charters provide the best path to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. Charter operators cite what they claim are charters’ higher test scores, graduation rates, and college admissions.

But charters (a.k.a. “school choice”) hurt African American children by draining critical funds from public education. Charters’ “success," limited and questionable though it is, is due to two factors.

First, they enjoy a self-selected and sometimes hand-selected cohort of students. Second, they employ a young, underpaid, overworked workforce that allows them to save money on salaries, healthcare, and pensions: money they can use to have smaller class sizes and fund extracurricular programs that traditional public schools can’t afford.

Even if these practices were ethical, they could not be replicated on a large scale.

University of Colorado education professor Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, explains that “the greatest determinants of [a school’s] success are the raw materials — the students who enroll.” Welner has........

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