Opinion by Liz Peek, Fox News, 7/4/23
Do Democrats actually care about educating minority kids?
Leftist outrage greeted the Supreme Court’s recent ruling banning affirmative action. That anger is misplaced; it should be directed at the failing inner city public schools that graduate generation after generation of black and brown children incapable of succeeding in college, or in life.
If every child in the United States were receiving a decent education, we would not need affirmative action.
Associate Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that the Court’s decision blocking race-based admissions “creates a leadership pipeline that is less diverse than our increasingly diverse society, reserving “positions of influence, affluence and prestige in America” for a predominantly white pool of college graduates.”
Sorry, Ms. Sotomayor, the funneling of minority kids away from that leadership pipeline occurs long before college and has little to do with the admissions’ policies of our prestigious universities. It has everything to do, instead, with black and brown children not learning to read or do simple math in our public schools. It has everything to do with the stultifying resistance of the teachers’ unions to any innovation or reform; everything to do with Democrat politicians who ignore the failures of an education establishment which condemns young people to lives as second-class citizens, at best.
Jamaal Bowman, representative from New York’s 16th district was especially unhappy. “The Supreme Court has yet again taken us back in time by barring institutions of higher education from using race-conscious admissions policies,” he said. Note that Mr. Bowman represents a district that includes southern Westchester and the Bronx, as well as the town of Wakefield. The students of Wakefield’s elementary school are almost entirely black and brown, and the great majority were not learning at grade level even before the pandemic.
Specifically, only 37 percent of black children at Wakefield’s school were considered proficient in English language arts and only 28 percent of Hispanic kids made the cut. In math, 33 percent of blacks made the grade and only 20 percent of Hispanics. Wakefield is not unique; New York State data overall is even worse.
School officials in New York and in other Democrat-run states hope to hide such unacceptable performance by eliminating student testing and grades; they have also eased graduation requirements, hoping puzzled parents won’t notice that their children cannot do the work necessary at the next level. Worse, Democrat officials have cruelly blocked the spread of charter schools which, with their documented success in educating minority kids, show what a sham the public system is.
The left says standardized testing is racist, but recent scores posted by minority children at public charter school Success Academy, prove that’s a lie. Eighth graders at all Success schools, mostly low-income minorities, recently took New York Regents tests meant for high school juniors and seniors. Some 99 percent passed the algebra exam and 95 percent passed the English test, way outperforming public high school students.
A recent study by the College Board shows that 60 percent of those who make it through New York’s high schools are not remotely prepared for higher education; the kids from Success Academy will be ready. And, they won’t need affirmative action.
Jamaal Bowman’s bio describes him as a prominent education advocate; it lauds as a seminal achievement his promotion of the “opt-out movement to steer our schools away from broken standardized testing.” What could possibly be worse for families hoping to track their children’s progress?
Who benefits from ditching standardized testing? The teachers unions, of course, which pushed to abandon assessments nation-wide because they didn’t want teachers exposed to any objective and fact-based appraisals.
On Bowman’s website he solicits donations, claiming “that Our movement does not accept money from Corporate PACs or lobbyists, and depends entirely on contributions from people like you.” Except that the teachers unions gave him $22,500 in 2022 alone and more than $33,000 overall, according to Open Secrets.
Of course, that’s just the money part. The teachers unions spends tens of millions of dollars each year funding mostly Democrat candidates also turn out hundreds of thousands of “volunteers” across the nation to harvest ballots and get out the vote.
Bowman’s other claim to fame is that he founded and served as principal of a school called the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, which he claims on his website has “become one of the best public middle schools in the city.” That’s an astonishing claim since the percentage of kids scoring 3-4 on the 2021-2022 state math exam was 21 percent compared to the citywide average of 51 percent, while only 18 percent reached that level on the state reading exam, compared to 50 percent for the city overall.
No wonder Bowman thinks affirmative action is essential; there’s no way kids enrolled in his school or in similar schools have a shot at higher education without a significantly tilted playing field.
Jamaal Bowman is not special, except that he outrageously boasts of being an educator; almost every Democrat is complicit in turning a blind eye to the failure of our public schools and the damage done to the hopes and dreams of minority children left behind by that underperformance. Condemning kids to second-class status does not matter; the dollars spewed by the teachers unions are more important.
So, expressing outrage at the Supreme Court for banning colleges’ use of race to admit students is the height of hypocrisy. How about focusing on making sure kids of all colors have the academic preparation necessary to get into schools on their own merit instead? Drop the bigotry of low expectations and enact real reforms in our schools, letting every kid learn and compete.
George W. Bush called education the “great civil rights issue of our time.” He was right; tragically, Democrats do not care.