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In the matter of UNCF v NAACP

The editorial board of The Washington Post has again weighed in on a traditional public school versus public charter school controversy or anti-union movement. This time the policy dispute is in New York City, rather than Washington, DC. It also seems to have one of African-America's institutional giants, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) attacking another institutional giant, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The NAACP has joined a lawsuit filed by the New York City United Federation of Teachers against the New York City Department of Education "to halt the city's closure of 22 schools and to prevent charter schools from using space in buildings that house public schools."

According to The Washington Post, the decision of the NAACP is "mystifying".

In its journalism world filled with intellectual hypocrisy, editorial arrogance, and self-righteousness, The Washington Post views strong and vocal supporters to improve traditional public education as opponents of public charter schools and providing high quality public education to ALL children. This is a false perception and The Washington Post needs to stop pushing it.

While the editorial may view the NAACP decision as mystifying, The Washington Post's position is not. It is also not mystifying how The Washington Post editorial board hauls Mr. Kevin Chavous, a private school voucher proponent, to attack and to misrepresent the position of the NAACP in this New York City public education dispute. During the move by House Republicans to impose private school vouchers on the District, both The Washington Post and Mr. Chavous were intellectually hypocritical and falsely substituted their narrow views for the broader District community which opposed the failed private school voucher program.

The NAACP position, as articulated by Mr. Benjamin Todd Jealous, speaks more of the views of the African-American community in New York City than Mr. Chavous or the editorial board of The Washington Post.

What is clearly further mystifying is why Mr. Michael Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer of UNCF would permit his name and by extension the legacy of UNCF to be used by Ms. Michelle Rhee to attack the integrity of the NAACP. Ms. Rhee is more a union buster and an opponent of community involvement, primarily from strong and informed African-American parents and public school advocates in public education reform, than an education reformer.

In light of the possible DCPS test cheating scandal, as reported by USA Today, Ms. Rhee is now fighting back this critical review of her leadership as the prized and former chancellor of District public schools. However, to The Washington Post, Ms. Rhee is still a rock star. Her push back to any criticism is evidenced of her ongoing continuing self-promoting public relations tour on the network news and cable news programs.

Does Mr. Lomax really believe the NAACP's position to support the improvement of traditional public education for all children, particularly African-American children is a challenge to the principals of founders and is an assault on efforts to educate African-American children? According to its press release, the NAACP states it stands for all children and it is "…being criticized by those who seek only to divide our community, pitting parent against parent, and distorting the facts about the lawsuit against the NYC DOE."

The press release goes on to state, "For the past 100 years the NAACP has fought for social justice including housing, health care and education. The NAACP has never wavered in its fight for equality and equity for all children. We must not allow a practice of separate and unequal to exist in our public school system. Our public schools must be available for ALL children."

Is Mr. Lomax seeking to do to the NAACP what Ms. Rhee reportedly did as a classroom teacher - tape the mouths of her students?
Ms. Rhee and the editorial board of The Washington Post have been criticized for playing fast and loose with data and facts in advancing their positions on public education reform. The casualty in the efforts has not been District students, but also the truth.

In questioning the agenda and wisdom of the NAACP, Mr. Chavous, Ms. Rhee, and The Washington Post recklessly continue to reveal their own agenda and Mr. Lomax unnecessarily risks his credibility and that of UNCF.

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