Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Education A Civil Rights Issue?

According to Newt Gingrich, Mike Bloomberg and Crazy Al Sharpton education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Really? No surprises here from Bloomberg and Sharpton, but Gingrich joining in on this photo op after a meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan seems a little bizarre. All seem to want to spend more money on public schools. Crazy Al, of course, goes into the nonsense about how little has changed since Brown v Board of Education. But, is money the answer? The clear answer is no. Family matters. Culture matters. Environment matters. Work ethic matters. Big-spending Democrats control the city governments and school boards of most major cities and have done so for the last 50 years. How did that work out for you? The proponents of maximum government oversight and interference have driven education into the dust. The reason is simple: when Democrats and squishy Republicans talk about "what's good for education" they mean "what's good for teacher unions."

The Obama administration and the Democrat Congress have already killed the popular and successful Opportunity Scholarship Program in which over 1,700 D.C. children have been given the opportunity to attend private schools where the focus is on education. Obama and Duncan talk about a "what works" approach, but so far have flunked their own test. Despite the overwhelming support he received from the Black community and their support for the voucher program, Barry Obama has made it clear that poor Black children don't belong in the same schools as his children.

If "education is a civil rights issue" is anything more than a political slogan, then the focus has to be on what works for kids. Public education is broken because our culture is broken. This is true across the board, not just in urban areas. The SATs and ACTs have been dummed down. Elite colleges have remedial math and English programs and many community colleges have as many students in remedial programs as in regular courses. Advanced Placement courses have diluted content and expectations.

Political debates concerning education are nothing more than a bidding war over who is willing to spend more. Most of the dumb masses will assume whoever wants to spend more money cares more about children. That is how Democrats have won the education debate in spite of appallingly poor results. The problems in public education have to be fixed at home and in the neighborhoods of America. Government schools cannot fix some things regardless of how much money is spent. However, we can allow the families who care enough to do what is right for their children. The D.C. program has brought impressive results for poor, mostly Black, children whose parents want something better for them and are willing to do their part to make it happen. Rather than kill the program, it should be expanded as there have been four times more applications than available scholarships.

Al Sharpton is right about one thing. There are still people standing in the school house door preventing poor Black children from pursuing a quality education. However, instead of segregationist governors like Orville Faubus, George Wallace, and Lester Maddox keeping children out of public schools it is demagogues and political opportunists like Sharpton, Barack Obama and Harry Reid who refuse to allow Black children to leave failing schools for better opportunities.

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