Saving Education

I didn’t know any Vietnamese farmers and wouldn’t be coerced into harming any of them. It was their choice if they wanted to be communists. Besides that, returning servicemen I met said it was a living hell over there and often quoted Eisenhower’s farewell address (a warning to beware of the military/industrial complex).

The choice was to be for war and against communism or be anti-war and for communism. Being anti-war and anti-communism didn’t suit either the communists or the crony-capitalist war-mongers running the country.

Being pro-life, I joined the commies in order to oppose the war. I was one of them. I wrote a letter to the Piedmont Times (suburban Oakland) defending outspoken communist, Angela Davis. That was the first letter to the editor I ever wrote. I lived a block from Oakland Tech High, where Clint Eastwood went and also Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party.

I recently read a report describing a program at William D. Kelley Elementary School in Philadelphia where fifth grade students were forced to celebrate “black communism” and simulate a Black Power rally to “Free Angela!”

These students are being taught that the United States is a “settler colony built on white supremacy and capitalism” which has created a “system that lifts up white people over everyone else.”

Even if that is true, what is this school doing for its students? By sixth grade, only

3% of students are proficient in math, and 9% are proficient in reading. By the time they go on to high school only 13% have achieved basic literacy.

What is the outlook for these kids’ future? Even in my history of menial work, mostly logging and farming, I would have fallen back to my beginnings as a dishwasher if I couldn’t do math or read. Take a look at education and you see small communities like ours doing fairly well because it is a community. I graduated in a class of 500 in California. I saw first-hand students being left behind because they were simply lost in the shuffle.

One teacher at William Kelley, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said, “I’ve come to realize that no policy hurts African-Americans more than the public school system and the teachers’ union.” Students in Philadelphia are being denied the tools to lift them out of a culture of victimhood, poverty, and crime.

Less than half of adult Philadelphians are functionally literate in a city where the schools employ 18,000 people and spend $3.4 billion per year. Those billions of dollars were not generated by slogans about systemic racism. They are available because thousands of people pursued a dream of being of use to their communities. The relationship of all those people is called capitalism.

Recent calls to “Support Public Schools!” (as an anti-privatization slogan), and “No Vouchers!” are direct attacks on choice. They show a lack of confidence in the competitiveness of the public school system. What parent would not relish the option of getting their kid out of William D. Kelley School and on to a good life?

One response to “Saving Education

  1. Fritz —

    The William D. Kelley elementary school in Philadelphia is, I am assuming from what you’ve written, a school with a predominately black student attendance.

    I am not sure of your targets for blame regarding the shortfalls in education of blacks in public schools. Is it no “community” or blacks “lost in the shuffle” (whatever that means) or teachers or the teacher’s union or government education departments or what?

    You write, “Students in Philadelphia are being denied the tools to lift them out of a culture of victimhood, poverty, and crime.” What, exactly, are those denied tools?

    Why doesn’t anyone ever suggest that maybe it’s the students themselves who are the problem? Maybe it is shortfalls in intellectual and cultural development of sub-Saharan blacks whose predecessors came to the U.S. Maybe the teaching methods, techniques, curriculums, and teaching protocols are simply not suited to black learning. Maybe blacks, from a collective viewpoint, simply have no interest in learning for learning’s sake. Maybe blacks can’t see an immediate gratification from learning a subject’s material and thus have little to no interest in learning unless it is viewed as instantly rewarding. Perhaps a shortfall in abstract thinking ability, in terms of envisioning benefits in the future, prevent blacks from embracing a desire to learn.

    I am also quite sure that the William D. Kelley school is not unique among schools catering to majority black populations. Let me ask you this, why are the methods, techniques, study curriculums, study course syllabuses, teaching tactics, etc. effective for most Asian, white, and Latino students, but not for blacks? Shouldn’t we be looking at inherent black learning desires and capacity restrictions when other ethnicities do mostly fine with today’s approaches to teaching?

    The persistent drumbeat that all are created equal and applying it to blacks, and with no distinction between a biological equality and an opportunity leads the education and political communities to focus on teaching competence or educational funding as the issue. For example, I believe we should scrap Black History Month. It is irrelevant to learning and is solely about projecting undeserved black pride. Perhaps a black history hour or day would be more appropriate in recognizing the small number of benefits that blacks have actually contributed to mankind’s development.

    Yes, for one-month, black people get to brag that their race has produced men and women on par with the best whites. But they show no desire to carry on the work of these illustrious characters. But after the fanfare, forgotten black thinkers revert to being interesting subjects only for scholarly whites.

    Giving blacks a month to promote their historical achievements is pointless if their attitude towards learning stays the same. The heroes of the black community will always be entertainers and sports figures, not forgotten intellectuals such as Abram Harris (economist/anthropologist), Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell or entrepreneurs such as Daymond John, Robert L. Johnson, and Elijah McCoy.

    Obviously, there are brilliant black intellectuals, but in general, blacks aren’t interested in scholarship. Politicians and the education bureaucracy should stop deluding themselves; blacks quite simply do not care deeply about learning. Writing about the collective population, caring about learning is simply “not who blacks are.”

    I believe that blacks rarely value knowledge for its own sake. If it doesn’t help him financially and quickly, learning is unimportant to the average black. I suspect that many blacks are happy to study something to get a degree and a decent paying job but learning something for its own sake is a meaningless anecdote. Black people can appreciate someone getting a graduate degree to boost his income, but they can’t fathom why he would read Hegel for leisure.

    No, until teaching processes are tailored specifically to blacks, and the subject matter customized for individual or small collectives of black interests, the education failures involved with advancing black contributions to society will always exist. The real problem has to be identified, defined, and analyzed, and instruction/teaching tailored accordingly. And yes, segregation of ethnicities in education must be part of the solution.

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