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NAACP President Says Charter School Growth Weakens Public School System

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By Lisa Stark

The NAACP—the nation's oldest civil rights organization—is raising alarms about the growth of charter schools. The group wants a moratorium on new charters until a host of issues can be addressed.

Among its chief criticisms of charters—which currently educate about 5 percent of the nation's public schoolchildren—the NAACP says the schools often cherry pick the best students, disproportionately discipline children of color, and siphon off critical tax dollars from traditional public schools. It wants greater transparency and accountability for charter schools. Similar concerns have been raised by the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of civil rights activists that includes Black Lives Matter.

But African-American charter advocates are pushing back, calling the NAACP misguided and out of touch. They argue charters offer an important option to parents faced with failing traditional public schools. The debate over charters is only likely to intensify during the Trump administration. The president-elect's nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a strong supporter of school choice, including charters. Education Week sat down recently with NAACP President Cornell William Brooks to discuss charters, education inequality and the challenges ahead. Here's some of what he had to say.

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