Urban black parents who care about their children’s education are fleeing to charter and private schools, writes Samuel Freedman in the New York Times. He starts with a public school teacher who pays half her salary to send her sons to a private school.
There is nothing effete about the private education at the Whitfield School. Its campus consists of three cinder-block barracks tucked behind a Baptist church. The curriculum eschews the fashionable pedagogies of whole language and constructivist math. From pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, every pupil wears a uniform. And not a single child in a student body of 470 is white.
In her decision to enroll her children there, Ms. Jones has plenty of company among the Whitfield School parents. Probation officers, nurse’s aides, office managers, subway conductors, these are the overlooked legions of the black working class. A vast majority serve actively in their churches and hold a strain of social conservatism alongside political liberalism. Their departure from urban school systems, not only in New York but also across the nation, represents one of the most significant and little-noticed trends in public education.
Democrats sound “ridiculous” when they dismiss school choice, Eduwonk writes.
Minority parents want good educational options now, not unproven plans with a time horizon that often exceeds the amount of time their children will even be in school. So, despite their obvious problems as a public policy, vouchers will continue to be an easy argument for Republicans until Democrats forthrightly embrace ideas like public school choice and charter schools that help offer immediate relief to parents while addressing some of the shortcomings of vouchers.
Eduwonk also links to articles on the “problem” of inner-city charter schools that aren’t racially diverse: In Boston and Fort Wayne, Indiana, nearly all-black schools serve the needs of their students. Education is a higher priority for parents than racial mixing.