Professor Charles Willie spoke to the education workshop at the recent convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Willie's lecture entitled, "Effective Grassroots Social Action in Public Education," focused on public school education as a community affair requiring the collaborative efforts of all people including lawyers and social science scholars. Willie also stressed the benefits of integrated education for black students as documented in the in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. the Board of Education.
While Willie commended the NAACP for restoring a good working relationship between lawyers and scholars since Brown, he advised NAACP to beware of "hijackers" who try to substitute their goals for those people who originally filed and won the Brown court case. Some of Willie's examples of hijacking included changing the idea of integration to desegregation, which negatively affects the Civil Rights Movement, or even focusing on closing the achievement gap rather than emphasizing helping each child reach his or her full potential.
Willie has conducted studies of public school integration since the 1960s. He was a court-appointed master in the Boston school integration court case and has been a consultant and expert witness in all regions of the United States. He and colleague, Michael Alves, have developed a new student assignment plan called Controlled Choice that can be used in integrating all schools in a district - racially or ethnically, socioeconomically, and by gender - in a way that is fair to all students (including majority and minority students). Willie's most recent book, Student Diversity, Choice and School Improvement, (coauthored with Ralph Edwards and Michael J. Alves) also examines the issue of racial integration.