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[Susan notes: Obama got to the National Urban League, and here we get more evidence of their shameful backpeddling. Contrast this "premature release" (and later retraction) of principle with the longstanding position of the United Church of Christ.


Published in Wall Street Journal

To the editor

We're Not Against Charter Schools

Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West are mistaken about the National Urban League's position on charter schools ("African-Americans for Charter Schools," op-ed, Aug. 3). To be perfectly clear, the National Urban League wholeheartedly supports high-quality charter schools and the outcomes they produce for our nation's children. Many of our affiliates successfully operate charter schools and many others are interested in pursuing this important educational innovation.

In a list of recommendations to the Obama administration for educational reform--which unfortunately was distributed prematurely last week--the National Urban League and other civil rights organizations suggested that charter schools be employed "as accountable laboratories of innovation, rather than systemic reform prescriptions." [emphasis added]

While some charter schools can and do work for some students, they are not a universal solution for systemic change for all students, especially those with the highest needs, and should not be considered as the sole useful reform. Additional reforms we support include the innovative use of learning time, the adoption and implementation of common curriculum, and resource standards, ensuring equitable access to high-quality teachers and content, and meaningful family and community engagement. It is only in combination that any educational reforms will improve things for students.

There is nothing in the document or any other statements from the National Urban League or any of the other civil rights organizations to suggest we "collectively condemned charter schools."

We are working cooperatively with the Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to craft an educational reform plan that will guarantee equal educational opportunities for every child in the U.S.

Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League

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