Why the School Choice Hate?
Dear Dr. Vasquez Heilig, I hope this letter finds you at your best. I thought about the many different ways to convey this message, and I finally settled on writing you an open letter. I know you’re busy these days, eradicating the privatization of public education, as well as keeping the pressure on charter schools. Please don’t let me get in the way of your outstanding work, but I do want to understand more about your malcontent for school choice.
Moreover, I have been following your work as the California NAACP chair. Your ideas about school choice have been the catalyst for some strict legislation coming out of California.
All of this legislation seems to be anti-charter and dare I say, Anti-Black people.
I say Anti-Black folks because for years we’ve sat and watched a public school system not built for us continue to trap us (us meaning Black parents). People that have faced historical disenfranchisement should have a choice as to where they send their kids to school. To say anything besides that is admitting that you don’t have your fingers on the pulse when it comes to what is best for our students.
Three Local Branches Disavow.
Recently, three branches of the local NAACP in California have expressed their desire to contest your stance outwardly. Do you think this is a coincidence? Were these branches bought off by privatizers? I’m asking all of the questions that will be asked by pro-traditional public school conspiracy theorists.
To be clear, I have no beef with people that choose to send their kids to traditional public schools, magnet schools, religious schools, private schools, etc. I believe that it is ultimately the choice of the parents to decide where their child attends school. No one else can make that choice for parents.
I don’t want to judge your stance without 100% understanding why you’ve taken such a position. Is there research beyond your thoughts on private money in charter schools? I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything. I’m coming from a peaceful place in my open letter. Generally, I want to understand how anyone could think that taking choice away from parents could be a win for parents.
Opinions are My Own.
Finally, I’m not a paid blogger. All of my thinking is original thoughts. I think it’s essential to be transparent when you seek understanding from someone. No one is trying to change your mind about charter schools. Your beliefs are your own. I want clarity on why you think your opinion on what’s best for Black folks is the only way. I’m sure if we talk we’ll be able to find some common ground.
Maybe you’ve run schools. If so, I’d love to visit those schools and learn about best practices that work for Black and Latinx students.
I’m hoping that there is more to you than just theory. I’m looking for the substance. I know it exists, and even if I have to search hard to find it, I’m willing to do so.
Let’s Chop it Up.
Again, I hope this open letter finds you at your best. I’m willing to fly to wherever you are to sit in a room so that we can learn from each other. I’m extending an open invitation for you to visit my charter school in NY the next time that you are here. I am requesting that you join an episode of our podcast the 8 Black hands. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get us to a point to where you can start advancing public educational opportunities for Black and Latinx students instead of playing “Thanos” in regards to school choice options for California parents. Whatever it takes!
This post was written by Ray Ankrum and originally ran on his Everybody Luvs Raymond Education Blog.