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Posted By Walter Williams On 10/11/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
It’s indisputably beyond question that black Americans have a level
of loyalty to the Democratic Party and its big-government policies
second to none. They connect political power with economic power. But
the evidence that I see is that individual application and effort are
far more important determinants of socioeconomic progress than
dependence on government. If anything, government is the primary source
of handicaps suffered by a large segment of the black community. Let’s
look at one of those handicaps, education.
Quality education is a serious problem for black Americans. There’s
little dispute that government-operated schools deliver grossly
fraudulent education to most black students. The quality delivered to
white students is nothing to write home about, either.
By any measure of academic achievement, black students score at or
near the bottom. It’s typical for some black high-school seniors, with a
record of A’s and B’s, to have an academic achievement level two, three
or four years behind their white counterparts. At many predominantly
black high schools, it’s common for Scholastic Assessment Test scores to
average 600 or 700 out of a possible 1600. Four hundred points are
awarded simply by taking the test. Low academic achievement means that
admission to even second- and-third tier colleges requires admission
standards lower than that for other students.
In an increasingly high-tech world, fraudulent education is a growing
barrier to upward mobility. What do black Americans do about the
systematic academic destruction of our children? We surely don’t hold
those responsible for that destruction accountable. To the contrary, we
generously support those responsible, in the name of “saving public
education.” Personally, I care much more about saving children than
saving public education. I support any method of education delivery that
provides high quality education, whether it’s parochial schools, private
schools — both religious and non-religious — and public schools.
When people’s primary concern is about individual children, they
shouldn’t focus on repeated failed attempts to save a particular system.
Instead, if schools are failing to educate, they should try to provide
means to get children out of problem schools into succeeding schools.
That’s done by empowering parents, not the failed school system.
For four decades, the education establishment has made one promise
after another that more education dollars would improve education.
School budgets have skyrocketed, but educational achievement has
declined. Now the “solution” proffered is to hire 100,000 more teachers
so as to reduce class sizes. Here’s my guarantee: Like nostrums of the
past, this will not make a bit of difference in black academic
achievement, and in five or 10 years we’ll see the academic destruction
of black children unabated.
The children of the black “leadership,” politicians and those of many
teachers will be spared this tragedy; their children attend private and
suburban schools, not the dangerous, poor quality, inner-city schools.
Which candidate and party advocate giving all parents the chance to
opt out of failing schools? It’s George Bush and the Republicans who
support educational vouchers, a mechanism whereby poor parents have some
of the options of non-poor parents, namely removing their children from
unsafe and failing public schools. It’s impossible for Democrats to
support competition in education; they are too politically dependent on
Sen. Lieberman learned this when he signed on as the vice
presidential candidate. He had to recant his earlier support for
education vouchers. Black politicians can’t even demand getting rid of
incompetent teachers, dumbed-down education and elimination of
harebrained education schemes that are destroying their constituency’s
children, lest they lose teacher union political support and campaign
contributions. That’s a good deal for black politicians but devastating
to the people for whom they make a pretense of representing.
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