Category Archives: school choice

I THINK … it’s time to lay the blame for America’s poor quality urban education where it belongs – on the education industry, the unions and the polit

I have been a consultant to the Chicago and Detroit Boards of Education during brief times of reform. I have even traveled to Lithuania to consult on the then new, post-Community school system. I was the founder of the first school choice coalition in Illinois, etc. etc.

I say this just to establish that I know something about American education. The situation is not so complicated. Our public schools are failing … ah … have failed … because of politics. This is not accident. In most major cities, tens of thousands of blossoming minds are trampled down for political and financial gain.

Kids are kept prisoners in substandard schools with inferior education because they are the currency that provides the education unions with members, money and political power. The political value of each kid can be calculated through wages, dues and pension funds.

Why has so much money produced so little good? If you think the “good” is the education of our young people, you are wrong. No wonder you are confused. For most urban school systems, the “good” is the money for the teachers, the unions, the suppliers, the contractors, the support services … and oh yeah … the politicians. As long as these folks are rich, fat and happy, the education machine is running properly – to hell with the kids.

There is no good reason that we cannot give our kids the best education in the world. It is done all the time. It is done in the Catholic Schools. It is done in private schools. It is done charter schools. It is even done in hundreds, maybe thousands, of suburban and rural public school systems.

The big urban school systems do not fail because they cannot teach kids, or because kids come from poor families and single-parent homes. They do not fail because of classroom size. They do not fail because of drugs. They do not fail for lack of money. They fail because the politician and the union officials want them to fail.

How can I say something so outrageous? All you have to do is look at the many examples of quality education, and you know that the failure of the urban government run schools is no accident, no inevitable fate, and no force major. It is the simply the unholy trade off for money and power that dooms the children of the cities.

You want proof that inner city kids can be educated. There are many examples – way back when Marva Collins ran Chicago’s Westside Prep in the heart of the ghetto (and you can download the resulting Hollywood movie).

Maybe it is not a movie yet, but check out Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy. The Class of 2010 will be sending 100% of the graduates to four-year colleges. That’s right. The entire senior class is going to college.

Urban Prep is not some fancy school in an upscale neighborhood that accepts a few promising inner city kids out of noblis oblige. This is a totally minority school in the heart of Chicago’s black ghetto. The kids now graduating were previously on the path of joblessness, gang membership and menial jobs or crime.

The point is … if there is a sincere effort to educate kids, we can do it. If we do not do it, it is because we don’t want to – or, I should say, they don’t want to.

It’s time we stop giving the urban school industry the benefit of the doubt. They are in the business of destroying the kids’ education for political and financial gain. Until that ends, no amount of money will fix the problem – maybe make it worse.