Madeloni faults charter schools on civil rights

Barbara Madeloni is shown with Gerard Robinson, former president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, at a Pioneer Institute forum on Barbara Madeloni is shown with Gerard Robinson, former president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, at a Pioneer Institute forum on "Civil Rights, Charter Schools and Teacher Unions."

MTA President Barbara Madeloni on Thursday, February 26, made a powerful case that – to paraphrase the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – charter schools fail to serve “the least, the lost and the left behind.”

Madeloni appeared on a panel at a Pioneer Institute forum titled “Civil Rights, Charter Schools and Teacher Unions” at the Boston Omni Parker House Hotel.

Madeloni reminded participants of the well-documented fact that charter schools fail to serve nearly as many English language learners and special needs students as their sending districts and that they expel and suspend students at a far higher rate, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. These are some of the major civil rights issues of our times and of great concern to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, she said.

In defense of unions, Madeloni stressed that unionized public schools perform better than non-union schools precisely because “student learning conditions are teacher working conditions.” She added that the frame of the debate should not be civil rights, charter schools and teachers’ unions, but public education, civil rights and hedge fund managers. The 1 percent who protect their own wealth at the expense of racial and economic justice are at the root cause of low student performance in schools, not teachers’ unions, she said.

Click here for more on the event and to see a list of speakers. Click here to read Madeloni’s prepared remarks for the event, from which she took many of her comments during the question-and-answer session.