An Open Letter to Senator Bernie Sanders: Public Charter Schools Are in High Demand Among Families of Color

Dear Senator Sanders,

On behalf of the five million children who want to attend a charter school if space were available to them, we ask you to abandon your call for a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools and back away from calls for additional regulations that are not in the best interests of schools or students. Our families deserve the right to choose their public schools and our children deserve the high-quality education that public charter schools afford them.

Public charter schools are in high demand among families of color. According to a recent survey from Democrats for Education Reform, 58 percent of African American Democratic voters and 52 percent of Hispanic Democratic voters support charter schools. Additionally, 67 percent of African-American and 62 percent of Hispanic millennials support charter schools. Instead of calling for limits on the choices African American and Hispanic families can make, you should be listening to these communities. If you were, you’d surely hear their call for high quality choices within the public-school system.

In Brown v. Board of Education, the court struck down laws that limited the educational options and opportunities for African American students. It sickens us that now, 65 years later, we are again fighting politicians who would seek to tell our families which public schools we can and can’t choose for our children. Public charter schools offer hope and opportunity to millions of students, especially students of color, and your calls would move our nation backwards towards educational inequality.

District-operated public schools have systemically failed students of color for generations. As a result:

1)  Many charter schools are located in predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, in the communities where the need for high-quality public education options is most acute; and, 
2)  Nationwide, African American and Hispanic families are more likely to choose charter schools for their children, accounting for 60 percent of total charter school enrollment. What’s more, the research indicates that those families are making the right choice.

A 2015 report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University on students in 41 urban regions across the country found that African American charter school students gained 36 days of learning in math and 26 days in reading over their non-charter school peers each academic year. For African American students in poverty, gains were even more substantial: 59 days in math and 44 in reading.

It is clear from your statements on charter schools that you have fallen victim to many of the myths about charter schools. We’d be delighted to meet with you to help you gain greater insight into our schools, our families, and our communities. We extend an open invitation for you to visit a charter school and see firsthand the ways these schools are transforming the lives of millions of kids.

– National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

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