Black Americans can escape the cycle of failed schools, rampant poverty and government dependence if America as a whole embraces the proven values that made it the envy of the world, according to a new report from the conservative Project 21 Black Leadership Network.
Titled “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” the report offers 57 proposals in 10 different policy areas that Project 21 believes would lead to a thriving U.S. and a resurgent black community.
The proposals range from taxes to criminal justice reform to relations between police and local communities. But education is central to the goal of lifting black families to stability and prosperity.
Statistics show just 38 percent of blacks earn a four-year college degree in six years, compared to 62 percent for whites, 63 percent for Asians and almost 46 percent for Hispanics.
Project 21 Co-Chair Horace Cooper says failing schools are not preparing many black students for college.
“What you’re seeing is a disproportionate number of graduates at these places can barely read the diploma that they’re given. In 2017, six percent of black high school students who took the American College Testing exam (ACT) met the four benchmarks that were necessary for college readiness,” said Cooper.
He points out only 35 percent of white students met those benchmarks, along with just under 50 percent of Asians. Cooper that is an indictment of public schools across the board.
“In Europe and much of Asia, they are insisting that their education system deliver for their young people. In America, we’ve been much more interested in letting bureaucrats get cushy jobs and make sure that unions get the support that they need, rather than insisting we absolutely need our kids to be able to read the diploma that we hand them when we graduate,” said Cooper.
He says it’s a crisis that must be addressed now.
“The main thing we’re trying to emphasize with this report is that there are certain strategies and policies that have the effect of hurting people who are working class and poor. Minorities tend to be more disproportionately poor,” said Cooper.
“Our public school systems in too many inner cities are simply failing. Black Americans are disproportionately enrolled in these failing schools,” he added.
Cooper says nothing has changed despite decades of poor results.
“Many of these cities refuse to incorporate ideas like competition, school choice, opportunities to let the faith community play a role. And they often have a very hostile attitude about even parental involvement,” said Cooper.
And, in a toxic pattern, inner city students with a poor education see few options when they become adults.
“If you are not equipped to compete in the 21st century marketplace, you are going to suffer dramatically and you may end up feeling forced to pursue non-legal means of providing for yourself,” said Cooper, who says the other common alternative is to live off government assistance programs.
Cooper says local governments need to start threatening to decrease funding unless results improve, instead of throwing good money after bad in failing schools.
He also says America must again embrace the principles that made it the envy of the world.
“It started with the building blocks, family. It started with faith, free markets, personal responsibility, limited government. These attitudes, these strategies led to America’s success and they will lead to any group’s success,” said Cooper.
He says liberal intellectuals started gutting those principles and convincing millions of people to follow a different course.
“A bunch of seemingly smart people said we don’t need those things. ‘Family? That’s so yesterday. We need Washington, D.C., bureaucrats to come in and dictate. We need massive government. Free markets can’t be trusted,'” said Cooper.
Cooper says Ronald Reagan proved 20 years later that the ethos of the 1960s was wrong, but the fight still goes on to return to the formula for American success. Cooper is confident it’s not too late.
“If we do it again with intentionality, we can do it in America and end a lot of the poverty that we see,” said Cooper.