Superstar John Legend, a passionate advocate for the African-American community on a myriad of social issues, has publicly come out against the NAACP’s stance on charter schools.
Last month, the organization’s Board of Directors ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools until stronger oversight had been established.
In this March 2, 2016, file photo, John Legend arrives at the LA Premiere of “Underground” in Los Angeles. Legend is among 100 black luminaries being recognized by Ebony magazine. The magazine revealed its annual Power 100 list Friday, Nov. 4, which recognizes outstanding achievements by black entertainers, corporate heads and civic leaders. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
“As the oldest voice on civil rights in America, the NAACP has always been a leader in understanding the issues that communities of color are facing – including in our public education system,” wrote Legend in response to the resolution in an opinion piece published on Essence.com. “That’s why I was confused and upset by their decision to press pause on the progress in one area of education that’s been a bright spot for many communities of color.”
NAACP officials said the resolution was based on its historical support for public schools and not ideological opposition to charter schools—though it did raise concerns about the level of accountability and standards exhibited by the institutions. They were also concerned about public monies being diverted to privatized education.
“Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children,” said Chairman Roslyn Brock in a statement. She added, “We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools.”
Legend said the NAACP was right to raise concerns about the practices of some charter school but that it had overlooked an important point if the larger goal of delivering equitable, quality education was considered.
“What’s shortsighted about the NAACP’s decision is that it’s ignoring the many successful charter schools that are delivering results for many communities,” Legend said, citing New York City, where charter schools are helping to close the achievement gap between students from affluent and economically deficient backgrounds.
“We have to do better. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP in the fight for equal opportunity, social justice, and against the poverty that plagues too many of our neighborhoods,” Legend wrote. “I want to stand with them on education, too.”