“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” – Samuel Adams

Educational freedom is today’s civil rights issue

Star Parker
Star Parker

Criminal charges against one single black mother and conviction of another for sending their children to schools in districts in which they are not residents provide yet more indications of deep seated problems festering in our country.

Moreover, it makes you wonder about how long it is going to take for blacks to wake up to their real problems and who and what holds up black progress.

In one case, a single, homeless black mother in Connecticut is now charged with larceny for supposedly “stealing” $15, 686 in education services because she sent her 5-year-old son to kindergarten in a school district where she doesn’t live by using her babysitter’s address.

Earlier this year, a single black mother in Ohio was convicted and sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years probation for using her daughters’ grandfather’s address so the girls could attend better and safer schools.

Did these women break the law? Technically, yes. But I would call this reality the 2011 version of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Public school reality today for black kids is one that overwhelmingly keeps them incarcerated in failing, dangerous schools. It’s evidence of the indomitable human spirit that, despite horrible circumstances, many poor unmarried black mothers understand the importance of getting their child educated and will do whatever it takes to get their kid into a decent school.

And yet when they try, they get convicted, jailed, fined, and sent back to the plantation.

The NAACP is working on behalf on the Connecticut mother, questioning the severity and possible racial implications of the charges.

Supposedly there have been 26 recent cases of kids removed from this school district because of residency issues but with no criminal charges. Why suddenly charges against this particular woman?

Racism? Maybe so, and this should be investigated.

But let’s not forget the bigger picture that the NAACP has consistently opposed school choice and voucher initiatives and has been a stalwart defender of the public school system that traps these kids and prohibits the freedom and flexibility that these mothers seek

Let’s think about the NAACP mindset that on the one hand defends a black mother for sending her kid to school in a district where she doesn’t live — in this case because she is homeless. But at the same time defends the public school status quo that causes these kinds of problems to begin with.

Slowly, here and there around the country, blacks are waking up to the importance of education freedom.

In Illinois, black pastor and State Senator James Meeks has been fighting for vouchers that would give kids trapped in Chicago’s failing schools a way out.

Now being revived by House Republicans, the D.C. Scholarship program was initiated by a black mother — Virginia Walden Ford.

But these cases still, unfortunately have been the exception to the rule.

Generally, black establishment politicians and organizations such as the NAACP have defended government public schools and education status quo and sadly have hurt their own communities.

Nothing contributes more to the growing income gaps in the country than disparities in education, and the impact continues to grow.

In 1980, college graduates earned 30 percent more than those with just high school degrees. Today it is 70 percent more. In 1980, those with graduate degrees earned 50 percent more than those with just high school degrees. Today it is over 100 percent more.

It is Republicans who have championed school choice and vouchers that disproportionately will benefit blacks. Jeb Bush pioneered vouchers as Governor of Florida. Now Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law a far-reaching voucher bill. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett is trying to do the same.

We shouldn’t be returning black children to public school plantations and punishing their mothers. They need education freedom and school choice. This is the civil rights issue of our time.

Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the new book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay. Prior to her involvement in social activism, Star Parker was a single welfare mother in Los Angeles, California. After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, received a BS degree in marketing and launched an urban Christian magazine.


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5 Responses to “Educational freedom is today’s civil rights issue”

  1. I don’t think that would necessarily be the case throughout most of the country however, because of two distinct differences between D.C. and most of the country.

    One is that the cost of living is astronomically high in the D.C. area when compared to most of the country, so I don’t think the cost of tuition at private/religious schools around the country would be nearly as high as in the D.C. area.

    The second is the incredible poverty in some areas around D.C. We do have pockets that are probably that bad in half a dozen areas of the country, but the vast majority of America isn’t nearly that poor.

    So with the vast majority (90%+) of the country not faced with that huge gulf between cost and financial resources, vouchers could still be a tremendous boon to the overwhelming majority of American families.

    And with the increased competition for education dollars, the public school system would be forced to pull it’s head out of its nether parts and improve (or go under from lack of attendance), thus improving the lot of those children still attending the public school system.

  2. I don’t think that would necessarily be the case throughout most of the country however, because of two distinct differences between D.C. and most of the country.

    One is that the cost of living is astronomically high in the D.C. area when compared to most of the country, so I don’t think the cost of tuition at private/religious schools around the country would be nearly as high as in the D.C. area.

    The second is the incredible poverty in some areas around D.C. We do have pockets that are probably that bad in half a dozen areas of the country, but the vast majority of America isn’t nearly that poor.

    So with the vast majority (90%+) of the country not faced with that huge gulf between cost and financial resources, vouchers could still be a tremendous boon to the overwhelming majority of American families.

    And with the increased competition for education dollars, the public school system would be forced to pull it’s head out of its nether parts and improve (or go under from lack of attendance), thus improving the lot of those children still attending the public school system.

  3.  Bob

      I really don’t think you have been in the market of pricing private/religious school’s tuition. I just did a quick web search of three private schools in Fort  Worth- two secular and one religious- and the tuition for say a child in the tenth grade is between $15,000 and $18,500 per year. Doesn’t even cover all the other inherent costs like uniforms etc etc. which add up quickly. I checked schools in Dallas and Houston and found that many of the private/religious school’s tuitions were equally high. A $7500 voucher wouldn’t do much and means somehow there would have to be a massiveseparate scholarship fund that could pay up to $10,000 per student to make up the difference.

    Fort Worth is a pretty ‘ average ‘ city as far as income, living expenses, school tuitions etc .

  4. That’s a heck of a lot more than it costs around here. But then, they spend more per student than South Dakota anyway.

    Like I said, even if most people don’t take their children out of public school (which they won’t–it’s easier to leave them where they are), vouchers will make it possible for enough to do so that it will suddenly get the public school system interested in getting it’s act together, which will make things better for those kids still going there.

  5. Well anything that would help public schools improve- I  am all for. Just not sure vouchers could do  that, but who knows for sure. Enjoyed the badinage