Teaching black children to read is an act of social justice

By Richard R. Buery, Jr.
KIPP students reading

A friend and colleague of mine named Dr. Jennifer Brown recently shared a powerful observation: “In America, teaching black children to read is an act of social justice.”

Every day, more than three million children – predominantly black and Latinx – attend charter schools because their parents have chosen that option. These families should have the support of the elected officials who represent them, and of the political party they consistently support.

Charter schools are public schools that are not operated by traditional school districts. Charter schools have long been politically controversial, but there have been real examples of bipartisan support. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both embraced charters as a part of their education agendas.

Recently, some Democratic leaders have criticized charter schools and threatened to limit the federal Charter School Program, an important source of funding for many new charter schools.

You might think the reluctance of some Democrats to support charters reflects the preferences of the Democratic electorate. You would be wrong. Recent polling shows that there is broad public support to “expand access to more choices and options within the public-school system, including magnet schools, career academies, and public charter schools.” This support is strongest among black Democratic voters, 89 percent of whom expressed support in a recent poll, compared to 81 percent of all Democratic primary voters. Other polls have shown strong support from black Democrats.

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