The Urban League Of Greater Miami Wants 'School Choice' For Liberty City

Mar 13, 2014

Credit Jessica Meszaros / WLRN

The Urban League of Greater Miami wants parents to consider sending their children to charter schools. The organization hosted a town hall in Miami Wednesday night to build support for their idea of "school choice."  

T. Willard Fair is the League's president. He says charter schools abide by  contracts promising to produce certain outcomes, and if they fail, the contracts get canceled. 

"What would happen if every poor performing school in Liberty City had to sign a contract? They all would be closed up," says Fair. 

The Urban League is concerned for poor parents in the community who don't think they have choices for their children. 

Fair says that by sending their children to a charter school instead of their assigned public school, parents in essence vote with their feet: their decision transfers money from the public school to a charter school of their choice. 

"We're trying to provide them with the same kinds of options [as wealthier families]," says Fair, "in spite of their economic positions."

Lionel Lightbourne, an attendee, works for Belefonte Tacolcy Center, a non-profit "safe haven" for children in Liberty City. He says he doesn't want public schools portrayed as villains.

"There's a lot of heritage that goes along with it. The dangerous part about this is giving people too many options," he says, "we gotta teach our families, as well as our children and our school systems, how to tough it out."

Last night's town hall was just one of a series on "school choice." The Urban League of Greater Miami plans to host more soon.