During Obama’s first term, you would think that with blacks voting 90%+ for Democrats and enjoying Democrat majorities in the House, Senate, and White House, that his first timer should have been marked by policies that finally gives the black community something to celebrate about.
But none of the policies Obama enacted are going to provide any real and lasting change to the black community that breaks the cycle of poverty. In fact, some of the budget busting policies may hurt the black community.
The one thing that our Democratically-controlled federal government can do that may start the long term change for black people is to change one key policy of our educational system. When a person is educated, they can take advantage of opportunities to better themselves and their families and to break the generational cycle getting the short stick in life.
Dr. Ben Carson, the retired foremost pediatric neurosurgeon in the world has said so himself. He has first hand witnessed how education can change a poor young black boy heading for trouble into someone who has made an incredible contribution to our world.
However, too many of our black children remain in under-performing schools because the Democrats owe far too much to two of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
These groups stands in opposition to one of the great opportunities of our time – to have the choice to remove our children from underperforming, unsafe schools and to have them go to another performing public or private school.
If I am forced to pay taxes to send my children to school, then I at least should have some say in where I have my children educated – as long as it meets my state’s education standards. I should not be forced to fund a public school system that spends more year-after-year per student yet continually produces worse results. All in the name of supporting the idea of public education. An idea that fails too many children in black communities.
By forcing our kids to attend these academically poor schools, we deny them the opportunity to make something of themselves which perpetuates the same fate as their parents.
Detractors of school choice policies say that doing so could see good students leaving a public school which brings it down even further. But that’s the problem with that type of approach – no one in those schools gets ahead if they can’t all get ahead. This dooms the whole school rather than giving an opportunity to some. I would rather see 30% of the kids have a chance rather than zero.
The other argument is that all we need to do is throw more money at these schools and everything will be better. Our spending policies have proven that public schools don’t perform better if we throw more money at it. D.C. area schools are already spending around $17,000 per student per year, the highest in the nation, and it is arguably the worst school system in the country. You can’t save underperforming schools merely by throwing money at them.
The public school I send my children too is a great school. But if I lived in an area where the schools were poor, classroom disciple is teetering on mutiny, and students aren’t learning key fundamentals – I would want that choice to send them to a school where not only can they dream big, they can actually see a path to their dream.
There are other pro-union policies for teachers that also keep these schools down. For instance, if you have a group of apathetic teachers that are passing time and collecting paychecks, you cannot fire them because of tenure. If you’re going to cut teachers, you have to start with the ones who have been there the shortest, not the ones who have the worst record.
Looking at things like school choice is the type of real thinking that I have been hoping to see from Obama. We can argue about States vs. Federal rights in terms of education but the Department of Education is not going to be gutted during Obama’s administration – his own party would fight this tooth and nail.
Ironically, it’s often the conservatives (particularly among the Republicans) that support this type of federal measure and would love to see it passed. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy for many of us to simply blame all the Republicans and conservatives for our troubles rather than see that many of them are truly color-blind and want to help everyone in a way that is sustainable in the real world.
Because until we get our kids educated, the opportunity for the American dream for many of these black children remains a teasing nightmare.