By Jessica Gould
National School Choice Week kicks off Monday with a series of events designed to spotlight the problems in public schools and advocate for union accountability, charter schools and vouchers.
Michelle Bernard, president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy, is organizing one of the local events. She says school choice is a civil rights issue.
"Particularly in the District of Columbia, where...so many kids that are subjected to schools that are under-performing are primarily Hispanic and African American students," Bernard says.
But she argues that teachers' unions can stand in the way of choice and educational excellence.
"The way that a lot of teachers unions are structured, jobs are protected even if you are not performing, and that is the biggest obstacle to school choice," she says.
In a statement, Washington Teachers Union President Nathan Saunders counters educational activists should focus on improving traditional public schools, which serve a majority of American students. He says public schools remain an equally viable -- if not better choice -- for parents.