WASHINGTON, D.C. – A recent editorial by George Mason University economics professor Walter Williams succinctly summarizes the torrid relationship between black politicians, teachers unions and the Democratic Party.
According to Williams, who is black himself, African-American politicians are selling out generations of black youth to score political points.
The evidence is in how those politicians advocate for the preservation of a public school system that has failed millions of minority students, while simultaneously denying parents of those students better educational options, Williams wrote.
Teachers unions hate competition for students from private, charter, and online schools because it erodes the public education monopoly and jeopardizes demand for unionized teachers – the teachers unions’ primary source of revenue.
“Black congressmen and black public officials in general, including Barack Obama, always side with teachers unions in their opposition to educational vouchers, tuition tax credits, charter schools and other measures that would allow parents to take their children out of failing public schools,” Williams wrote.
“Most black politicians and many black professionals take the position of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is on record as saying, ‘We shouldn’t abandon the public schools.’”
Williams explained that black leaders align themselves with the teachers unions and Democratic Party as part of a political coalition that also includes groups like the NAACP and the National Urban League.
As part of the political coalition, they’re required to support causes that may go against their self-interests, and the interests of those in their community, in order to maintain their political support.
“There’s no question that these black public officials are getting something in return for their support of teachers unions and others who benefit from the educational status quo. The question not addressed by black people is whether what black politicians are getting for their support of a failed educational system is worth the sacrifice of whole generations of black youngsters, educationally handicapping them and making many virtually useless in a high-tech world,” Williams opined.
Williams highlighted the hypocrisy of many black leaders who pay lip service to public schools, but send their own children to alternative schools.
According to a Heritage Foundation study, “exactly 52 percent of Congressional Black Caucus members and 38 percent of Congressional Hispanic Caucus members sent at least one child to a private school,” Williams pointed out.
President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and many members of Congress send their children to private schools, as well.
They’re setting an example that other public school supporters – including teachers union officials and unionized teachers in general – are picking up on.
“According to a 2004 Thomas B. Fordham Institute study, more than 1 in 5 public school teachers sent their children to private schools. In some cities, the figure is much higher. In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, it’s 41 percent, and Chicago (39 percent) and Rochester, N.Y. (38 percent), also have high figures. In the San Francisco-Oakland area, 34 percent of public school teachers enroll their children in private schools, and in New York City, it’s 33 percent,” Williams wrote.
Those figures are a stark contrast to the 11 percent of all students who are afforded the same opportunity. For black students, it’s a mere 6 percent who get the privilege of attending a private school, Williams wrote.
The lesson is simple: While black politicians and other leaders of the political left espouse the importance of public schools and work to limit other educational options, many send their children to private schools because they’re not willing to sacrifice their own child’s future.
Black parents – and public school parents in general – deserve the same opportunities for their children as the country’s political elite and upper union class.
“I don’t think anything that black politicians get from the (National Education Association), the (American Federation of Teachers), the NAACP (many members are teachers), the National Urban League or others who have a vested financial interest in a failed educational system is worth committing a whole generations of black youngsters to educational mediocrity,” Williams wrote.