Why are America’s prisons filled with so many young black men? Are they inherently bad? Too shiftless to succeed? Too stupid to learn? Actually, none of the above. Most black men who do time were cheated out of a decent education by the inexcusably sorry public schools they had no choice but to attend.
And why do so many young black women fall into the demeaning lifestyle of government dependency? Are they inherently bad, too shiftless to succeed, too stupid to learn? In every case, no. Like their male counterparts, they too were robbed of a decent education by the grossly substandard public schools that failed to give them even a minimally acceptable education.
INFLICTING INCALCULABLE HARM ON GENERATIONS OF URBAN CHILDREN
The harm America’s biggest school systems have inflicted on urban kids who want to learn has gone on for so long that it’s tantamount to a premeditated crime against the most disadvantaged children in our society.
Consider the plight of minority students who have no choice but to attend the horrendous public schools in the nation’s capitol. For the school year 2010-2011, the District of Columbia Public School District spent nearly $600,000 per classroom of 20 students—$29,345 per pupil, to be exact—yet 8th graders in the District finished dead last in a national proficiency test in math and reading. Dead last!
For that school year, DC’s public schools were the uncontested winner in the race to the bottom, with every other urban school district in America breathing a sigh of relief that they were edged out as the worst of the worst. From border to border and coast to coast, inner-city children are being robbed of a chance to learn by school systems that give little more than lip service to providing disadvantaged kids with a good education.
SPENDING MONEY LIKE IT GROWS ON TREES
Since the 1960s, urban school districts have received astounding sums from the U.S. Department of Education, yet their abysmal results have repeated like a broken record year after year after year. The 2009 stimulus bill signed into law by President Obama allocated $98 billion of additional funding to the DOE, nearly all of which went to the same Democrat-run school systems that have failed decades on end to adequately educate minority children.
Despite that intolerable failure, their answer to the problem is always more money.
But while children who want, need and deserve a decent chance to learn are getting the educational shaft, school superintendents and legions of other lavishly-paid, off-campus administrators are taking gargantuan bites out of school budgets:
? From 1999-2010, Beverly Hall was superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, a system that habitually graduated less than half its high school students. The year before she resigned, Hall’s compensation package included a chauffeured limousine and a salary of $389,000, more than twice the salary received by Georgia’s governor. Atlanta is not alone—many big-city school superintendents are paid more than their state’s governor. As head of one of the worst-performing school districts in American history, the superintendent of Baltimore City Schools is paid $320,000, $50,000 more than Maryland’s governor.
? When federal grants—also known as political slush funds—land in their lap, urban school districts squander much of the money on lavish junkets disguised as “education conferences.” With one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the Atlanta area, the DeKalb County School District blew through a $382,000 grant from Obama’s 2009 stimulus spending by treating 184 senior administrators to a relaxing four-day stay at a luxury resort hotel & spa in Hollywood, California.
SCHOOL CHOICE: A WAY OUT FOR URBAN KIDS WHO WANT TO LEARN
The surest way to ensure that inner city children receive a quality education is through federally-funded school choice vouchers. Established in 2004 as a school choice pilot project by President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program provided thousands of minority students in the nation’s capitol with $7,500 scholarships.
The program enabled 1,700 black and Hispanic kids from low-income families to get out of DC’s notoriously sorry and unsafe public schools, and into the same kind of safe, high-performing private academies attended by the likes of Chelsea Clinton and the Obama daughters. Although the program was enthusiastically supported by eager-to-learn minority kids and their parents, President Obama and Democrats in Congress terminated it in 2010 at the behest of teachers unions, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency.
Sixty years ago, a black baby who would never set foot in a public school was born to a mother who chose to enroll him in top-rated private academies as he grew up. So what impact did private schooling have on his life? He’s done quite well. His name? Barack Hussein Obama, who exercised school choice for his own children, but denied it to disadvantaged children in the nation’s capitol.
President Trump pushed hard for a federally funded, 50-state school choice program for urban kids from low-income families, but was obstructed at every turn by the unholy alliance between the Democratic Party and teachers unions. Democrats eagerly subsidize Planned Parenthood so the lives of unborn urban babies can be snuffed out by abortion, yet are fiercely hostile to providing a first-rate education to disadvantaged minority children whose mothers chose to give them a shot at life.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOL PECKING ORDER
The following quote is attributed to Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing children.” Whether Shanker said that is disputed. But even if he didn’t, that’s the attitude teachers unions and Democrats have about where children stand in the public school pecking order.
The mutually back-scratching alliance between Democrats and teachers unions has cynically exploited urban school children for six consecutive decades. The harm they have inflicted on generations of America’s most disadvantaged young people has been so thorough, so devastating that it’s hard to conclude anything other than they couldn’t care less about the fate of the very children for whom they piously profess infinite concern.
Below are links to short videos that will break your heart. The first shows eager-to-learn minority students in the nation’s capitol literally begging President Obama to save their opportunity scholarships; the second shows a bewildered African American mother asking why oh why did the president she’d enthusiastically supported kill her daughter’s school choice scholarship. Who gives a damn about urban school children who want, need, and deserve to learn? Not Democrats or teachers’ unions.
WATCH: Disadvantaged kids beg President Obama …
WATCH: Bewildered mother asks Obama why …
By John Eidson
A 1968 electrical engineering graduate of Georgia Teach and now retired, John Eidson is a freelance writer in Atlanta and a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative.