Don’t Adopt a “Dixiecrat”-like plank re local (school board) control of chartered public schools

The following statement was submitted in July, 2020 to the 2020 National Democratic Party Platform Committee by more than 100 parents, students and educators, including Joe Nathan, director, Center for School Change

To 2020 National Democratic Convention Platform Committee Members and Delegates:

We  strongly urge the national Democratic Party platform committee to listen to civil rights heroes like Rosa Parks, Dr.  Kenneth Clark and Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker – to expand, rather than restrict  public school choices, as has been  proposed in the draft Democratic Party 2020 platform.  The proposed draft would “turn back the clock” almost 30 years – when the only public school options  low income families had were what the local district decided to provide.

Dr. Clark, co-author of the “Doll Test” used in the “Brown versus Board” US Supreme Court Case, in 1968, urged creation of “realistic, aggressive and viable competitors”  outside the control of local school boards.

Dr. Kenneth Clark

Chartering rests in part on his wonderful suggestions.  The proposed draft would ignore Clark’s recommendations. The draft permits local boards to  block federal startup funds for charters.

Sadly Detroit’s board blocked a charter when  Rosa Parks proposed one be created because she and many other African-American families wee dissatisfied with many district public schools.


Rosa Parks

While the platform includes many progressive ideas, the education section sounds sadly, like some of the worst Dixiecrat platforms. It urges regression and return to “local (school board) control” when it comes to families – especially low income, African American, Latinx, indigenous and other families of color. We strongly urge rejection of local school board control over chartering and chartered public schools.

We strongly urge inclusion of chartered public schools as a form of public school in the platform.  Otherwise, Democrats will be guilty of what Ralph Ellison described in the Invisible Man “ I am invisible because you refuse to see me.”

As predicted, chartering has encouraged districts from Boston to Los Angeles to create new district options, and refine existing district choices.  “Choice/freedom” is a central principle for progressive Democrats whether it involves a woman’s control over her body or a family’s decisions among public schools.  Chartering is a freedom, something like freedom of speech, offering opportunities but no guarantees.  Like other American freedoms, chartering

  •  Recognizes the value of giving people the chance to create something new, and valuable
  • Requires that innovators be responsible for results
  • Insists that those new public school operate within limits.

Dr. Wyatt T. Walker, chief of staff for Dr. Martin Luther King, wrote, “ In the charter school movement, I am continuing the work of Dr. King…”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Wyatt T. Walker

While some succeed in district schools, Cesar Chavez explained why growing numbers of Latinix (and other students of color) select chartered public schools. “Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment.”

Consistent with the wonderful work of these courageous leaders, we urge recognition of chartering and charter public schools as valuable parts of public education and as a manifestation of self-determination of Black,  Brown, Asian-American, indigenous people and immigrant families.

 We urge rejection of draft platform approaches that would allow “local school board control” to block federal funds for creation of new, or expansion of existing, effective chartered public schools. We urge federal support for learning from the most effective schools – measured in various ways, whether district or chartered.

We’re eager to work with you and other Democrats to promote education opportunity, equity and justice.

St Claire Adriaan, Principal, Academy of The City Charter School, Woodside, NY

Claud AllaireExecutive Director, FIT Academy Charter School, Apple Valley, Mn

Anakarita Allen, Executive Director/ Superintendent, Thomas Edison Charter AcademySan Francisco, CA 

Chancey Anderson, Prodeo Academy, CEO School Development, Minneapolis

Erin Anderson, Director of Charter School Authorizing, Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center, Minnesota

Heidi E. Anderson, Executive Director, Augsburg Fairview Academy, Minneapolis

Joan Arbisi Little, Executive Director, Career Pathways Public Charter Secondary School, St Paul

Jay Artis-Wright, Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member, Sacramento CA

Sara M. Asmussen, Ph.D., Executive Director, New Dawn Charter Schools, Brooklyn, NY

Carol Aust, Executive Director, Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina

Katie G de Aviña, Executive Director, El Colegio High School, Mpls, Mn

Todd Bartholomay, Executive Director of New City School (Public Charter), Minneapolis, Mn

Stephen C. Batchelder, Co-founder, Director of Operations, President, and Teacher, James Madison Preparatory School
Tempe, AZ

Darren T. Beck, Superintendent/Chief Academic OfficerUtah Military Academy

Susan Berg, Executive Director, Yinghua Academy, Minneapolis

Carol Bowar, Executive Director, Girls Athletic Leadership Schools of Denver

Valeria Braimah, Executive Director, City Charter Schools, Los Angeles CA

Jai Brisbon, M.Ed, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Lumin Education, Dallas, Texas

Karen Butterfield, Ed.D, founder of Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, Flagstaff AZ; 1993  Arizona Teacher of the Year

Kaleem Caire, One City Schools, Madison WI

W. Michelle Cambrice, Director, The Journey School, St. Paul, MN

Antonio Cardona, Director Office of Public Charter Schools at Pillsbury United Communities, Minneapolis

Rick Campion, Prodeo Academy, CEO Strategy, Prodeo Academy,  Minneapolis-St.Paul

Iris Maria Chávez, Director, Oregon Coalition of Community Charter Schools

Matt Cisewski, Director, Aurora Charter School, Minneapolis

Rev. Al Cockfield, Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member, Far Rockaway, NY

Monique Daviss, Executive Director El Sol Science and Arts Academy, Santa Ana, California

Judith Denton Jones, Board Chair, Maine Association of Charter Schools

Cathy Diaz, Co-Director,  EdVisions Off Campus, Henderson, MN

Catherine Diersing, Superintendent/School Leader, The Project School, Bloomington, Indiana

Gigi Dobosenski, co-Director, EdVisions Off Campus, Minnesota

Ruben Dueñas, Chief Operations Officer, YPI Charter Schools, Los Angeles CA

Ramona Edelin, Senior Advisor, DC Charter School Alliance

Dr. Charlene Ellingson, Executive Director, Rochester STEM Academy, Rochester, MN

Ahmed Elmi, Director, Metro Schools College Prep, Minnesota

Sharif El-Mekki, Phillys7thward Philadelphia, Pa.

Walter Enloe, Professor Emeritus, Hamline University, Minnesota

Carolyn Farrell,  Principal Seven Hills Preparatory Academy, Minnesota 

Chris Ferris, Executive Director, Highline Academy Charter Schools, Denver Colorado
Barbara Burke Fondren, Founder/School Leader, Community Montessori – New Albany, Indiana

Alison Ford, Director of Development & External Affairs, KIPP Minnesota

Terry Ford, Executive Director, Lumin Education, Dallas, Texas 

Josh Frankfort,  Instruction Coordinator, Academia Avance, Los Angeles CA

Connie Freitag, Executive Director, Aspen Academy, Minnesota

Dr. Howard Fuller, Marquette University, formerly Milwaukee, Wisconsin, district superintendent of schools

John Gawarecki, Director, Math and Science Academy, Woodbury, Mn. 

Stacey Gauthier, Executive Director, The Renaissance Charter School and The Renaissance Charter School 2, Queens, NY

Kim Goates, Executive Director, Canyon Grove Academy, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Cris Gulacy-Worrel, Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member, Columbus Ohio

Dr.  Christianna Hang, Superintendent, Hmong College Prep Academy, St.Paul, Mn

David Hardy, Founder, Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia PA and Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member

Chavarious Harwell, 2020 Student of the Year, Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs

Mustafa Ibrahim, Executive Director, STEP Academy Charter School, Saint Paul, MN

Dr. Laurie Inman, Founder, The Center for Independent Charter Schools, Los Angeles CA

Wayne Jennings, former suburban district director, director of district & charter public schools

Judith Jones, board chair, Maine Association of Charter Schools

Peter Kleinbard, retired, New York City

Yvette King-Berg, Executive Director, YPI Charter Schools, Los Angeles CA

Tammie Knick, MSW, LICSW, School Social Worker, DREAM Technical Academy, Willmar, Minnesota
Brook LaFloe, M.Ed, Niniijaanis One of Ones
Lori Lackey, Superintendent/Principal, Valley Life Charter School,  Visalia, CA,

Clem Lee, Superintendent ABLE Charter Schools, Stockton, California

Harry Lee, President & CEO, New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association

Heather Lines, Executive Director Discovery Charter School, Inver Grove Heights, MN

Raphael Martinez, Executive Director, Albuquerque Sign Language Academy

Myranda Marsh, Founder, James Jordan Middle School, Los Angeles CA

Matt McFarlane, Executive Director, PIM Arts High School, Eden Prairie Mn

Ricardo Mireles, Executive Director, Academia Avance and Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member, Los Angeles CA

Hattie Mitchell, Founder, Crete Academy, Los Angeles CA
Dr. Kathy Mortensen, Executive Director, Woodbury Leadership Academy, Woodbury,   Mn

John Mullaney, Exec Director, Maine Association of Charter Schools

Barbara Novy, Executive Director, Stonebridge World School, Minneapolis

Joe Nathan, PhD, Director, Center for School Change, St Paul, Mn.

Sam O’Brien, Head of School, Great River School St Paul, Mn.

Dr. Meg Palisoc, Former School District Teacher and Charter School Leader, California

Renee’ Parcheta, Ed.S, Principal, Blue Sky School, Minnesota

Sonia C. Park, Executive Director, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition

Dr. Steve Perry, Head of Schools, Capital Preparatory Schools, CT/NY and Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member

John Poupart, founder and director, American Indian Policy Center, Minnesota

Eric PremackExecutive Director, Charter Schools Development Center, Inc., California

Khulia Pringle, Minnesota Parents Union

Therese Privette, Principal, North Metro Flex Academy, Minnesota

Elissa Raffa, Executive Director / District Superintendent, Minnesota Online High School

Nicole Rasmussen Director, Cyber Village Academy, St. Paul, MN

Ember Reichgott Junge, former (Democratic) Minnesota state senator, author of nation’s first charter law

Xavier Reyes, Chief Executive Officer, Alta Public Schools, Los Angeles CA

Greg Richmond, Founder, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Chicago, IL

Bryan Rossi, Ph.D. Experiential Youth Empowerment Strategies

Dr. B. Charvez Russell, Executive Director, Friendship Academy of the Arts, Mpls

Terry Ryan, CEO, Bluum Boise, ID.

Jose Salas, Executive Director & Principal, Montague Charter Academy, Los Angeles

Jennifer Schulze, Executive Director, Sheridan Japanese School, Sheridan, Oregon

Chakesha Scott, MBA, CEO/Founder, Education Explosion, Inc. d/b/a Impact Charter School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tony Simmons, Executive DirectorHigh School for Recording Arts, St. Paul, Mn.

Angelica Solis-Montero, Executive Director, LA Coalition for Excellent Public Schools, and Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, Steering Committee Member, Los Angeles

Jon Schroeder, Founding Director, Charter Friends National Network; Current Board Member, Minnesota Association of Charter Schools

Destiny Sparks, Executive Director, Watershed High School, Richfield, Minnesota

Doug Thaman, Executive Director, Missouri Charter Public Schools Association

Jean Thomas, M.EDL, Administrator, Academy of Building Industries  High School, Fort Mohave, Arizona

Jason Ulrich, Executive Director, Eagle Ridge Academy, Minnetonka, Minnesota

Jed Wallace, Founder, CharterFolk

Brandon N. Wait, LSC ,Executive Director, Paladin Career & Technical High School, Blaine, Minnesota

Lori Webster, Director, Mountain Mahogany Community School, Albuquerque, NM

Robert J. Wedl, Former Minnesota Commissioner of Education

Peter Wieczorek, Director  Northwest Passage High School, Coon Rapids Mn.

Sabrina Williams, Founder & Executive Director  Excell Academy for Higher Learning Charter School, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

Caprice Young, National Superintendent, Learn4Life, California, Ohio and Michigan

Sheryl Zimmerer, Executive Director, Logos Public Charter School, Medford, Oregon

Steven Zimmerman, Founder, Coalition of Independent Charter Schools, Executive Director, Academy of the City Charter School, Woodside, NY

Organizations listed are for identification purposes