John Legend said Thursday that he can’t stand with the NAACP on education reform, responding in an op-ed published on Essence.com to the civil rights group’s recent resolution against charter schools.
On Oct. 15, the NAACP formally ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until several measures were met, including subjecting the schools to greater oversight.
In response, the singer and activist wrote that he was “confused and upset,” with the decision, saying that the NAACP is “ignoring the many successful charter schools that are delivering results for many communities.”
The battle over charter schools has gone on for years. But as the Washington Post reported, they make up a relatively small percentage of the nation’s educational institutions:
Today the thousands of charter schools — which are funded with public money but allowed to operate independently of public school districts — educate about 6 percent of all public school students in various states and the District of Columbia. Eight states have no charter schools, and five have fewer than 10.
The NAACP said its decision is based on its strong support for public schools, and noted its history of denouncing “movements toward privatization that divert public funds to support non-public school choices.”
Legend, who recently welcomed a baby girl with wife Chrissy Teigen, has a strong passion for education reform and other social issues. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign, a nonprofit with initiatives focused on education and mass incarceration. He sits on the board of Teach for America and is the vice chairman of the board of Harlem Village Academies, a charter school network in New York City.
The Grammy Award winner mentioned New York in his Essence article:
“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,” he wrote. “In New York City, third grade charter school students outscored students at district schools in math and in English. Charters here are closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged Black students and their more affluent white peers.”
For Legend, issuing a moratorium on new charters isn’t the solution to fighting poverty and empowering children to succeed.
“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,” he said. “I want to stand with them on education, too.”