The Fight Against School
February 03, 2017
The intent to scuttle the
nomination of Betsy Devos, a strong advocate of School Choice,
recalls distressing conditions in the Public School system
before Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.
decision, it was thought that equal access to good schools (and
closing the gap in educational outcomes within the Jim Crow
Public School system) was understood and would be achieved.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, in the opinion of the Supreme
Court, wrote this decision:
“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of
state and local governments. ….. It is the very foundation of
good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in
awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for
later professional training, and in helping him to adjust
normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that
any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is
denied the opportunity of an education. .......”
seems rather odd that in 2017 conditions at inner city Public
Schools deny most of the same qualities sort in the historic
decision of 1954.
There are now two public school
systems in America (though described as one). The good ones are
in rich neighborhood and the bad ones in poor areas.
Whether the above situation is accidental or planned should not
be the issue. Rather, it should be observed that a poor kid in
this "two-stream" system today gets the short shrift in
educational outcomes, as if he or she were back in the Jim Crow
system prior to 1954.
A report issued by the US Department of Education titled,
"Expansive Survey of America's Public Schools Reveals Troubling
Racial Disparities," admits the fault line.
it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to
meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to
succeed," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.
At the bottom of the divide are the failing and underperforming
inner city public schools, where most Blacks and the
These inner city schools have
become agents of unemployment, creators of unsafe neighborhoods
and assurers of prison incarcerations for the youth - all
outcomes that would suit the tendencies of a Jim Crow's heart.
Education outcomes, as already understood in 1954, are
issues that underpin all aspects of Black life. Good outcomes
assure good life. For years black youths have been
devastated by poor outcomes at inner city public schools.
Ironically, considerations about
these poor educational outcomes have so far not separated Blacks from
Democrat policies, to question the risks that support for the current Public School
concept pose to core Black interest in education.
This Public School concept, School Choice
advocates claim, is outdated. And they see in their new approach a
rather novel effort to fulfill the Brown vs. Board Education mandate.
Unfortunately, their proposal has not much support among
Democrats and now two Republican senators..
Together with the Teachers Unions, Democrats
resist vehemently the idea of School Choice. They condemn it as a
ploy to move resources from the Public Schools to private ones
in the form of vouchers.
“Vouchers pull resources from
schools that need every dollar they can get,” they say.
For these advocates and protectors
of the current public school concept, the problem is with the education budget itself; the need is for more money to
the failing schools.
They argue that:
is a relative term, of course. But there's no question that
public schools — like all components of government — are
struggling with reduced budgets. According to a Census Bureau
report that came out last year, 2011 marked the first year in
four decades that per-student spending in public schools
Indeed, failing is a relative term. But
the fallacy in the above argument is that the school in the poor
areas were failing long before 2011 and are continuing to fail
even after 2016. So what to do?
Besides, this understanding of School
Choice as a drain is amazingly dishonest.
Comparatively, Democrats don't
mind giving out food stamps (SNAP)
that pull resources to rich merchants in the same neighborhoods
that the poor schools are located.
In truth, they are against the
removal of the protective barriers that surround the zip code public
school system and afraid that the elimination could move poor
students to their rich neighborhood schools.
But, why must a choice to
move a kid from a non-performing Public School A in a ghetto to
a performing Public School B in a different neighborhood be a
drain on the same Public School system in the first place?
And, what is wrong
with adding private schools as options to the Public School
system when needed?
At least, the mere existence of another option, which is what
School Choice is, could induce more
competition and parents get to decide where their wards' vouchers
administrations have not done much to embrace School Choice for
one utmost reason: The fear of the Teacher
Union funds that generously
support mostly the Democrat party.
Luckily for advocates of
School Choice, there is a new administration that believes in
educational innovation and is prepared to act.
The nominee for Secretary of
Education, Betsy Devos, is an ardent supporter of School Choice
for over 30 years, and predictably, her nomination is being
bitterly opposed by the Democrat party and the Teacher Unions
Also, predictably, Devos has been described by the
opposition as being unqualified for the job.
to the questions opponents at Senate hearings have for Devos, you
could detect the bias against School Choice. At the same time
you would be struck aghast by the underlining insensitivity on display
for the plight of
victims in poor school districts.
apparently, are not
meant to elicit how School Choice can help, but to block the
idea entirely., A question by Senator Bernie Sanders to Betsy Devos, for example:
“Do you think, if
you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family had not made
hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the
Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?”
Devos answer, “I do think that there would be that
And Bernie Sanders, the socialist, scoffed
at the answer.
Forget the fact that School Choice has been
Devos' passion and specialty for over 30 years. And this is the expertise
that bought her the nomination and the wish to bring same skill
set into an accepted educational system, but not necessarily to abolish
the existing public schools!
But her detractors want no part of this argument and would take
none into consideration.
Devos is facing an uphill
fight. It has just been learned that two Republican senators,
both white women, from constituencies far from the effects of
the desperate Public School system in poor areas but afraid of
the wash that the voucher for School Choice may bring to their
neighborhoods, have planed to go against her in the final floor vote.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, Republicans from
Alaska and Maine respectively, accused Devos of failing to
understand "what public schools needed to succeed."
A dose of School Choice vouchers, maybe?
Well, only the Teacher Unions could understand "what the public
schools needed to succeed"!
As heavy recipients of generous Teacher Union donations,
Murkowski and Collins potential two
votes against Devos can be classified as fear and “donor service” induced, not likely
driven by any principle of the Republican party they represent.
never mind. Once the intent of the two Republicans was announced it was accepted with
glee by the Democrat caucus and the Teacher Unions, thereby
cementing the special interest link between them because the
chances of Devos attaining the simple majority plus one vote
have been reduced in the close votes expected.
What remains to be
seen is whether the disapproval is an effort against only Betsy Devos
the billionaire or a quest to kill the idea of School Choice
itself, thereby locking down the poor and Black kids in rotten
Devos, as a person, can be forced out of the
nomination. But can the idea behind School Choice die with her
I know of no credible plan that has a promise to
erase the gap in outcomes like that proposed by School Choice.
The idea of pouring more money into the coffers of a failing school
system though very lame, sounds also like shouts from a con man
who has no innovation to sell.
More money for public
schools has been the easy sell for the Teacher Unions for
It must be remembered that there is an
educational crisis in America today. It keeps Blacks and the
poor in rotten schools; this in a society that has been
struggling to free itself of the same depraved conditions since Brown vs. Board of
Education decision in 1954.
For this writer, if you are
black, love your kids and will like to give them a shot at a
better future, you will go for School Choice.
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC,
February 03, 2017.
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