In late April, Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, made the mistake of trying to portray Baltimore’s wreck of a public school system as a partisan, Democrats vs. Republicans issue.
He later recanted. Wise choice.
But before he did, Henderson told a room full of black folks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University that Maryland’s Republican governor was trying to take over Baltimore schools. Then he told them about how teachers in predominantly-white Baltimore County schools are better than those in predominantly-black Baltimore schools and about disparities in the availability of advanced placement courses between the two systems.
Here’s what Henderson failed to mention: schools in Baltimore County and in Baltimore are run by Democrats. Maryland’s legislature, which funds both systems, has been a Democratic body for decades.
Any failures of Baltimore’s school system -- which, according to a Manhattan Institute study, graduates only 48 percent of its students and only 39 percent of its black male students -- have to be blamed on the political party that’s run the system for years.
That would be Democrats.
In the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Black Power movement in the United States, there is no clearer indication of black power’s failure than in urban school systems like Baltimore’s that are run by Democrats. Washington, D. C. schools are some of the worst in the country. Democrats run D.C.
In the Manhattan Institute study, Baltimore’s graduation rate was 91st of the country’s 100 largest school systems. But Detroit’s -- another city run by Democrats -- was 98th. In both Baltimore and Detroit, most of those Democrats are black who are supposed to be exercising black power to improve conditions for black folks.
Instead, today’s black Democrats in places like Baltimore and Detroit seem to have their lips permanently sutured to the rump of the Democratic Party jackass. If there is a clash between, say, the Democrats’ commitment to teachers’ unions and educational improvement for black folks, Democrats will choose teachers’ unions.
Black Democrats seem powerless to stop them.
I’ll use as Exhibit A Baltimore’s KIPP Ujima Village Academy, a fifth-through-eighth grade school that sits in a poor, predominantly black section of northwest Baltimore. On recent state assessment tests, these “poor black kids” Democrats claim to have so much affection for rocked it, totally blitzing their counterparts in predominantly white, affluent areas of the state.
Nearly 92 percent of KIPP’s sixth-graders scored at advanced or proficient levels in reading on the Maryland School Assessments. They beat 24 of 25 schools in Baltimore County and 15 of 19 schools in ritzy Howard County, just south of Baltimore.
In math, just over 89 percent of KIPP’s sixth-graders scored at advanced or proficient levels, beating 23 of 25 Baltimore County schools and 12 of 19 Howard County schools. One hundred percent of KIPP’s seventh and eighth graders scored at advanced or proficient in math, beating ALL schools in Baltimore County and Howard County.
Now don’t go thinking Baltimore’s Democrats can take credit for the fantastic KIPP achievement. KIPP is a charter school. Charter schools are public schools which don’t have to operate under the constraints of regular public schools. In some cases, teachers’ unions might dictate those constraints.
Maryland -- with the Democratic-dominated legislature whose Democratic legislators claim they are committed to good education for black kids -- didn’t pass a law allowing charter schools to be established until 2003. The main hamstring was opposition from teachers’ unions. Black folks committed to true black political power would have called the Democrats on their slobbering servility to teachers’ unions long ago.
Instead, we get black politicians who play the blacker-than-thou card on the matter of charter schools. Remember what happened to Dave Bing several years ago?
Bing is a former National Basketball Association All-Star who now owns an automobile supply company in Detroit. He teamed with a white businessman named Robert Thompson, who wanted to donate $200 million to the city of Detroit to establish charter schools. Two things happened.
A black member of Detroit’s city council gave Bing a “Sambo” award and called him a sell-out.
Detroit’s political leaders turned down Thompson’s offer.
In places like Baltimore, Detroit and Washington, D.C., black Democrats have failed to deliver when it comes to educating poor black kids. They seem to have forgotten what Stokely Carmichael meant when he shouted “Black Power!” 40 years ago in Greenwood, Miss.
Or maybe they never knew.
He could have written this about New Orleans and it would have been the same exact thing. I hate to say that I am glad it's just not us but I am.