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How Do They Treat the Help? Da Vinci Code Unbroken

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Blacks Voting for School Choice With Their Feet

by Christopher Chantrill
April 07, 2006 at 11:16 pm

YEAR BY YEAR the education establishment gets bigger and bigger. Year by year the kids seem to learn less and less. And everyone seems to shrug their shoulders as though nothing can be done.

At least people are writing books. Henry T. Edmondson III has written an attack on John Dewey and progressive education in John Dewey & the Decline of American Education: How the Patron Saint of Schools Has Corrupted Teaching and Learning, which seems fair enough. M. D. Aeschliman writes in National Review that

Dewey promoted a futuristic, socialistic idea of “the Great Community,” whose “seer” for him was the polymorphous, promiscuous, egalitarian egotist-aesthete Walt Whitman, who sang both of himself and of future “democratic vistas.” Democracy, Dewey wrote, “is a name for a life of free and enriching communion,” and this mystical-pantheistic idea had its institutional vehicle in the “child-centered” school.

The trouble is that the child-centered school may be a dandy idea for the children of upper middle-class progressives, preparing them to a life of creativity and peace studies. But it also denies poor children an education in literacy and numeracy.

And now the poor, particularly the black poor, are starting to vote against Dewey-inspired education with their feet. Writes Michael Strong in TCSDaily, “While pundits and academics argue away, the quiet sucking sound you don't yet hear are African-American families leaving our public schools when allowed to do so.”

In Minneapolis, public school officials now admit that black flight is a serious problem; the district enrollment is projected to be down to 33,000, from 48,000 in 2000, a 30% decrease, largely due to black students escaping to charter schools. The Washington D.C. school district has lost 10,000 students in five years; 25% of D.C. students are now enrolled in charter schools. A Rand Corporation study of charter schools in Texas and California discovered that in both states black students are significantly more likely to move to charter schools than are white students.

This is profoundly encouraging news. It means that the movement begun by Polly Williams of Milwaukee is gathering momentum. It was back in 1990 that she began her campaign to bring school choice to Milwaukee’s black community, and she was opposed every step of the way by white liberals. When they saw, finally, that they couldn’t stop some sort of school choice plan they countered Williams’ plan with a fake one.

This fake choice plan was the product of a white, do-good liberal legislator named Barbara Nostein. Liberals backed her; they weren't for my bill. We finally won when we got 200 parents to testify for three hours in favor of my bill. In good conscience, my colleagues could not vote against those parents.

The common-sense interpretation of the data on school choice is that parents, especially minority parents, want it. In a democracy, the people rule, right? So why are progressives standing in the school house door preventing people of color from getting the kind of education they want for their children?

The answer is simple. The progressives want their “child-centered” education not because they are advocates for the poor but because they are advocates for themselves. They want progressive education to make the United States into a progressive society, just like Dewey did a century ago.

What the people want has nothing to do with it.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill