Black EnglishCommentary by Pete du Pont
January 09, 1997
Host intro: The Oakland, California, School Board has decided to treat Ebonics, or black English as a second language that teachers would have to recognize in their overall English curriculum. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis is speechless in any language.
Let me get this straight. The Oakland School Board's telling American children who grew up speaking English in America that they speak the equivalent of a foreign language.
Two hundred and fifty million people in this country, including immigrants from every corner of the world, speak something which, even by today's lazy standards, approaches standard English.
Some of them had to start from scratch to learn English. They did it because it's the key that opens to door to acceptance and success.
What's most striking about the Oakland foolishness is the number and variety of black leaders who oppose it.
Conservative Thomas Sowell says so-called black English is nothing more than the surviving relic of a sub-standard dialect that 19th-century Englishmen would recognize. He believes morally intimidated whites who back the plan do more harm than the Ku Klux Klan.
Jesse Jackson, whom no one would ever label conservative, calls the legitimatization of black English an unacceptable surrender that teaches down to black children.
Black kids, especially poor and undereducated ones, have too many unavoidable roadblocks between themselves and success. Do we need to manufacture more?
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA, we know ideas -- expressed in standard English by all Americans -- can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Host outro: Tomorrow, Pete du Pont, a former Congressman himself, has some advice for the new Congress.