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SOWELL: For left, teachers unions trump minority students
Democrats would rather help political donors than underprivileged youths
Question of the Day
If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far-left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.
These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life.
Last year, 82 percent of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared with 30 percent of the students in the city as a whole.
Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?
One big reason, of course, is the teachers union, one of Mr. de Blasio’s biggest supporters. It may be more than that, though. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.
Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland, Calif., have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.
This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.
However, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down.
Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution.
If this were the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.
There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. The education establishment’s decision, though, was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately, a court stopped this hasty shutdown.
These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia, and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.
Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?
Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer, crass politics. The teachers unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers unions can provide.
The net result is that public schools are often run as though their main function is to provide jobs for teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.
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