Sunday, January 21, 2007

Marquette’s Howard Fuller in Louisiana

From the website of a Louisiana TV station:
Howard Fuller offered a passionate plea Wednesday to give families living in poverty the choice of where to send their children to school.

“Why are we afraid to free the people?” Fuller asked the audience of about 60 people gathered at the Shaw Center for the Arts.

Fuller is a former Milwaukee public school superintendent and is now a professor at Marquette University. For years he has been a leading proponent of school choice. He is the chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Fuller painted a grim picture of education in many communities today.

“People always ask me, ‘Why are you so mad? Why are you such an angry Negro?’” he said. “I’m mad because on average 17-year-old black and brown teenagers do math as well as a 13-year-old white child.”

Even as this achievement gap, as measured by national standardized tests, persists, Fuller cannot understand why it does not arouse the same passion as previous civil rights struggles for racial quality.

“What I’m really mad at is we ain’t mad,” Fuller said. “What we have is a bunch of docile, conciliating black people who should be in the streets every day.

“Here are we in 2007, we can sit down at the lunch counter, but our kids can’t read the menu,” he said.
Why aren’t we mad? Or more specifically, why aren’t more black people mad?

It’s pretty simple. The Civil Rights revolution allowed millions of black people to rise to middle class status. This, or course, is exactly what the Civil Rights revolution was supposed to do.

The problem was that a lot of the black middle class is in the public sector, and especially in the public schools that are threatened by the competition that choice would allow.

Add to this the fact that middle class black activist organizations (for example, the NAACP) are in bed with white liberal and leftist activists. The latter group, both for reasons of ideology and interest fight to protect the public sector.

There are, of course, a good number of black political figures who favor school choice, and many more who have taken the opportunity choice provides to open schools and educate (mostly) black kids.

But the black community, which virtually spoke with one voice during the Civil Rights era, is now split.

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