Just one day after the anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech I can happily report to you that when it comes to education, there are blacks and whites who agree that our efforts should be judged by the content of the results not the color of the participants. Ken Campbell is the President of a group called Black Alliance for Educational Option. On Tuesday, Campbell addressed Eric Holder’s InJustice Department lawsuit against Governor Jindal’s school voucher program1 and reached a conclusion similar to the one I reached that day. “I don’t think our ultimate end is just to have racially integrated schools. I think our ultimate aim is to have quality schools.” While Campbell and I might disagree on how we get to “quality” in those schools we are in harmony when it comes to diagnosing the current approach as ineffective. Campbell’s group commissioned a study among black parents in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. On the subject of school choice they concluded. “85-89% in each state agreed that government should provide parents with as many choices as possible to ensure that their child receives a good education.”
I would point out that government is currently providing parents with the defective system we seem to be stuck in. Asking that entity to surrender its power-trip card and return those choices to the People entirely is politically unlikely but historically productive. Ironically, the Reverend King was one who benefitted from an education in Atlanta Georgia’s segregated public schools2; and received his B.A. degree from the predominantly black Morehouse college3 nearby. King was the third generation of King’s to graduate from Morehouse4. I bring this up not promote segregation but instead to illustrate the point that race had little to do with the quality education King obviously received. Why do most of his heirs then insist that race has everything to do with it5?
To achieve the “quality education” cited above, John Stuart Mill summed it up best6. “Men are men before they are …merchants; and if you make them capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible merchants.”
5. See speech of Jackson, Jesse to Washington Informer of 6/23/2013:
“That’s why Justice Ruth Ginsberg dissented from the opinion, arguing that more scrutiny is not needed. After a yearlong review, the university, she writes, reached a “reasonable, good faith judgment that supposedly race- neutral initiatives were insufficient to achieve the educational benefits of student-body diversity.” The purpose is constitutional; the means appropriate. Nothing else should be required.”
6. See Mill, John Stuart, Inaugural Address Delivered to the Universituy of St. Andrews
“Men are men before they are lawyers, or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible men, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians. What professional men should carry away with them from an University, is not professional knowledge, but that which should direct the use of their professional knowledge, and bring the light of general culture to illuminate the technicalities of a special pursuit. Men may be competent lawyers without general education, but it depends on general education to make them philosophic lawyers—who demand, and are capable of apprehending, principles, instead of merely cramming their memory with details. And so of all other useful pursuits, mechanical included. Education makes a man a more intelligent shoemaker, if that be his occupation, but not by teaching him how to make shoes; it does so by the mental exercise it gives, and the habits it impresses.”