African-American educators have been at the forefront of education battles through the centuries. Before Brown v. Board, black educators came together to operate schools that were responsive to our community. And after the landmark ruling, black educators worked tirelessly — literally giving their sweat, blood, and tears — to enforce the Supreme Court’s will.
There are many battles yet to be won. However, today’s African-American students have at least one advantage that their pre-Brown peers did not: public school choice. This was the topic of a session I hosted last month at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C. “Great Schools by Us, for Us: African-American Institutions and Charter Schools” brought together leaders Shirley Franklin, former mayor of Atlanta; Pier Blake, executive director of the Jack & Jill of America Foundation; and Dr. Paulette C. Walker, national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, to explore the role of black institutions in the public charter school movement.
A key theme of the discussion was that even in 2017, there remains a strong need for culturally responsive public education which nurtures the brilliance of black students. Because let’s be honest: Despite all the progress we’ve made as a country, our children are still inundated with messages that they are “less than” because they are black. (The 74)