Roland Martin: ‘Is School Choice The Black Choice?’

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National television host Roland Martin talks about school choice during an interview at WBHM.
National television host Roland Martin talks about school choice during an interview at WBHM.

WBHM 90.3

Two years ago, Alabama passed a law authorizing charter schools to operate in the state but the concept has been slow to catch on. Alabama has only one charter school so far in Mobile and the state earlier this year approved a second to open in Birmingham. These schools are meant to offer access to better quality public education but many black families have been resistant to the idea. Washington based television host Roland Martin is trying to change that. He’s making the rounds this weekend from Birmingham to Selma and Montgomery speaking with African Americans.

Fear of the unknown

Many African Americans don’t support charter schools and school choice because they don’t know a lot of about them, Martin says. “This is the thing, we only know what we know. So when you go, ‘… You get to control your own charter schools. You  get to be in control of the curriculum and everything else,’ Some people go, ‘Oh what are you talking about?’ That’s the fear. “

Problems with the funding of public education in Alabama.

Martin says Alabama doesn’t have a way to fix public school funding to be able to try new things. “How long have we been waiting for that to happen?” he says. “What I am saying is black parents say, ‘I can’t wait.’”

Accountability for charter schools

State law that establishes charter school operations also establish the rules of accountability, Martin says. “The accountability is there because the law says you’ve got three years. You don’t get the numbers? You shut down.’ Tell me where is accountability for school as being grossly underperforming for 20 years?”