Real Solutions for Black Americans: Contrary to Popular Belief, There Are Methods for Helping Blacks Overcome Economic and Social Problems Other Than Direct Government Aid-Proven, Workable Ways

Article excerpt

Despite decades of government interventions ostensibly designed to improve the plight of people of color, a significant percentage of black Americans remains mired in poverty, joblessness, welfare dependence, and hopelessness. By many measures--crime, illegitimacy, and unemployment rates, to name just a few--blacks are worse off now than they were before government began "helping" them. (See preceding article, page 10)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Anyone suggesting, therefore, that the myriad problems facing blacks--and, to a lesser but increasing extent, whites--can be solved by more of the same failed policies either is willfully ignorant of the results of those policies or simply refuses to accept the facts that are staring him in the face.

What, then, is to be done? Clearly, a radical rethinking of America's approach to improving the lives of blacks is in order. Education

There is no question that poverty is a huge problem for black Americans, and one of the best ways to escape poverty is to get a good education, something that has become increasingly difficult for poor blacks to do.

"If I were the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and I wanted to sabotage any opportunity for black academic excellence, I could not think of a better means for doing so than the public education establishment in most of our cities," George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams has stated on numerous occasions.

Dominated by teachers' unions, top-heavy with bureaucracy, and driven by an ideology that deems Heather Has Two Mommies and "climate change" more worthy of precious classroom time than the "three R's," today's public school system isn't just lousy; it's perverse.

Add in the poor discipline in most urban schools, and it's no surprise that blacks generally perform poorly in school. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that the average black 12th-grader scores at the same level as the average white seventh- or eighth-grader on standardized tests--and that's assuming the black student makes it to 12th grade. In reality, nearly half of blacks drop out of school. Those who do finish high school often get accepted to colleges and universities under affirmative action programs that virtually ensure their failure by admitting them to institutions where they cannot compete. (See book review, page 31)

How do we get schools to perform up to expectations so that blacks will stand a good chance of success?

"One of the most important things is that people become aware of the education problem," Williams, a black man who grew up in a Philadelphia housing project, said in an interview with THE NEW AMERICAN. Blacks, in particular, are getting a "grossly fraudulent education," he charged, yet most parents--both black and white--seem to be completely oblivious to the failure of the schools.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

If Americans were truly aware of the depths to which the public school system has sunk, Williams argued, they would demand changes to it. The biggest change that he believes is needed is the introduction of greater competition into the system, which is dominated by the government-school near-monopoly.

The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a black man who spent his formative years on a plantation in the Jim Crow South, agrees. "We've got to bring competition" to the educational system, Peterson, founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), told THE NEW AMERICAN. "We must bring that in if we want to see the public schools change at all. Otherwise, they're not going to change."

Peterson called for "more homeschool, private Christian schools, or private schools"--educational settings that, in general, produce better-educated students at lower costs.

He and Williams both recommended various school-choice initiatives as ways to introduce competition and enable parents to explore these other options without having to pay twice--once for public schools that they aren't using and again for the schools that they are. …