Both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and NAACP have called for public, accountable charter and traditional public schools, investment in public schools and a focus on children’s wellbeing, powerful learning, educators’ capacity and collaboration. That’s what we want for every family and community.

Ingrid Jacques (“School choice is not racist,” Aug. 4) attacked AFT President Randi Weingarten and the NAACP because she can’t defend the overwhelming evidence showing that, while many of our public schools need to do better, private school vouchers and charter school policies that lack accountability and transparency have been proven not to be the answer. In fact these “choices” being pushed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos drain money from traditional public schools, money these schools need to improve.

Numerous national studies indicate charter and voucher schools do nothing to address, and often exacerbate, the segregation and institutionalized racism that exists too often in our educational systems.

A UCLA study found higher suspension and expulsion rates at charter schools than traditional public schools, especially of African-American children. A Center for American Progress report concluded “widespread voucher programs risk exacerbating segregation in schools and leaving the most vulnerable students and the public schools they attend behind.” There are also numerous examples of charters and voucher schools not serving children with disabilities.

Nearly 30 years ago, the same arguments made by Jacques were used as justification for the policies that have shaped Detroit’s current educational landscape. Now, she seems more interested in defending charter school operators and the ideology of choice than evaluating the impact of these policies on all children and their communities. Weingarten examines the consequences of these policies and demands more for all families. Focus more on evidence, not ideology.

David Hecker

president, AFT Michigan

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