SCHOOL CHOICE OPPORTUNITY
April 29, 2008
Scarcely half of American children in our 50 largest cities will leave their public schools with a high-school diploma in hand, according to a study released by America's Promise Alliance. These children are disproportionately African-American. Their homes are disproportionately located in our largest public school districts. And the failure is a scar on this great land of opportunity, says the Wall Street Journal.
One of the few hopeful alternatives in these cities are Catholic schools:
- Minority students at Catholic schools are 42 percent likelier to complete high school than their public school counterparts, according to a University of Chicago researcher.
- They are also 2 1/2 times more likely to earn a college degree.
These numbers were behind the special White House summit on Inner-City Schoolchildren and Faith-Based Schools convened last Thursday. The emphasis on faith-based schools is a reflection of practicality, because turning around a failing public school or starting up a new one is difficult, costly and takes time that these children can't afford.
There is a political problem when it comes to solving this crisis, says the Journal:
- Though polls show that African Americans generally favor school choice, they tend not to vote for pro-school-choice candidates who are mainly Republican.
- Suburban voters of both parties are not enthusiastic about school choice, as many see it as enabling blacks and Latinos to find their way into their children's schools.
- The teachers unions devote their considerable resources to fighting any measure that increases accountability or gives parents more options.
So when politicians have to choose between a teachers union and some African-American mom who would like to take her son out of a failing public school, guess who usually wins?
Source: William McGurn, "McCain's School Choice Opportunity," Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2008.
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