by cheri block sabraw
In 2000, several years after I opened my school a fellow from a think thank in Washington D.C. called my office and asked to visit when he was in the Bay Area. He did. Shortly after, an invitation to a seminar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin arrived.
The seminar was a conversation about teacher choice, school choice, and vouchers.
And although I am not conservative (in fact I am a Libertarian), I passionately wanted to be a part of a new model in public education, a system that is falling behind in a number of ways.
So, I attended.
On the way to Milwaukee, I speculated about who else might have been invited.
My verdict: born again Christians and other conservative people.
Boy was I wrong.
The majority of people were black or Hispanic from places like Atlanta and Denver and they weren’t conservative politically.
All there had journeyed in crummy November weather to join the discussion about one of America’s most curious problems–the public school system.
Martin Luther King’s niece was among us and she was outspoken.
Milwaukee at that time had successfully implemented school choice, so black and other poor parents from broken inner city schools, schools left impotent by white flight to the suburbs, were selecting different, successful schools for their kids. Some of these schools were Lutheran and others were Catholic. Some were private. Others were charter schools
In Milwaukee, the teachers union had a hissy fit (like they are having in Chicago and L.A. right now) and found sympathizers to run for the school board but they didn’t win.
The black and Hispanic attendees shared their belief that the then (and now) current model, even the models that the wealthy Kennedy-type liberals professed would end the racial divide in American public education, wasn’t working for their kids.
The teachers were crap.
The facilities were crap.
The results were crap.
They felt, and this is a general summary, that the paternal and well meaning effort ( by the Democrats and union) to solve the educational gap between schools situated in middle and upper class neighborhoods and those located in poor neighborhoods, was really racist at its core because the liberals assumed that the minority parents wouldn’t make the effort and may not know what to do with school choice.
In my town, the first day of school is next week.
Just think what would happen to schools that aren’t cutting the mustard if everyone had a choice for their kids.