According to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, there are 6,700 charter schools in the country with three million children enrolled.
As that number continues to grow, board members and educators are gathering at a national conference in Nashville, Tennessee, to talk about ways to improve the schools.
Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now and a proponent of school choice who believes in supporting education models that work, traveled to this year’s National Charter Schools Conference, and spoke with guest host Avis Jones-DeWeever about the importance of charter schools for African-Americans.
During his remote broadcast, Martin shared interviews with Howard L. Fuller, founder of the Black Alliance of Education options, and Nina Rees, the CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
“We have to have better schools,” Fuller said. He explained the reason why he became involved in charter schools “was because the traditional system was leaving far too many of our kids behind.”
“For me, charter schools or other forms of parent choice give us an opportunity to have our kids go to better schools. So it is critical that we get involved in all levels of this movement to make sure that it serves our children and our community.”
Fuller also cleared up a misconception many have about charters saying, “Charter schools are public schools” with a particular distinction being between “public education and the system that delivers public education.”
“I support public education,” Fuller said. “I have problems with the delivery system of public education.”
Many opponents of charter schools believe these institutions siphon money out of public education, making their existence in a school district a hot button topic. Fuller expressed his belief that “the money belonged to the district –the money belongs to the taxpayers.”
He added, “We can make the decisions about policies that allow dollars to follow students.”
Meanwhile, Rees told Martin that those involved in the charter school movement are analyzing ways to innovate, and serving more students and ensuring collaboration with school districts to transfer the knowledge they’ve gained to the “greater school system.”
“After twenty-five years, there needs to be greater acceptance of charter schools, because we’ve done such a great job of closing the achievement gap and of serving a very diverse set of students with different types of needs.”
She continued, “The fact that the traditional school system has not embraced our reforms tells me two things – one, that we should do a better job of talking to the traditional schools system, but also to make sure that we understand that at the end of the day, some people simply do not want us to exist.”
Watch Roland Martin, Howard Fuller, Nina Rees, guest host Avis Jones-DeWeever, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the charter school versus traditional school debate in the video clip above.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty