NAACP president praises some New York City charter schools, but defends moratorium on the sector’s growth

The president and CEO of the NAACP defended his organization’s proposed moratorium on charter schools in New York City Wednesday night, but argued it is a call for a “reasoned pause,” not a “doomsday destruction” of all charter schools.

“We have many charters, particularly in [New York City], that do extraordinary work, have extraordinary outcomes,” Cornell Brooks said during a talk at New York University. But “we see too many instances where we see disproportionate — and I would argue discriminatory — expulsions.”

Brooks’ comments came just days after the NAACP approved a resolution calling for an end to charter school growth until the schools are held to the same standards of transparency as traditional public schools, and stop expelling students they “have a duty to educate.”

That resolution generated intense backlash from education reform organizations, and has been criticized by editorial boards at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

It has also sparked debate in New York City, where charter schools educate roughly 10 percent of the city’s students, and earned praise from United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

Brooks acknowledged the criticism leveled against the resolution, but pointed out that it was approved by 2,000 delegates who represent “virtually every school district in the country.”

He also flatly denied the suggestion that the NAACP’s position was bought with “princely sums of cash” from union interests.

But Brooks also spoke to the wider controversy, partly fueled by parents and educators of color have said the organization is out of touch.

“We took a tough stand, we received all kinds of criticism,” Brooks said. “But when you’ve been around for 107 years, we simply say to you: ‘We respect your opinion, we respect your criticism, but we will do what we have to do.’”