Allen B. West

I am a product of school choice. Why do black Democrats fight against me?

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Why did the first black president and the first black attorney general sue the state of Louisiana to block school vouchers for its students? The U.S. Justice Department argued that the voucher system was negatively affecting racial imbalance in schools, essentially reversing integration. Yet, an overwhelming majority of the students benefitting from Louisiana’s voucher system are either black or Hispanic.

We must continue to fight for equal education opportunities. I am personally challenged to share, educate, and empower my community to promote and foster school choice. Minorities – blacks especially — continue to suffer from being trapped in sub-par school systems.

According to Education Week, 1.8 million students drop out of school before receiving a diploma and less than 70 percent of black students are graduating.

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I am a product of school choice. As a recent law school graduate, I am convinced that my mother’s ability to choose the best schools for me prepared me for undergraduate and graduate school.

My mom sought schools that challenged me and stoked the burning desire I had for learning. She was my mother, and my teacher. I would complete my assigned schoolwork and then, her assignments. This usually resulted in me rewriting my spelling words, almost doubling the amount of time my teachers had assigned. I read several books a week and reworked every missed math problem.

But my mom was the exception to rule. She was blessed to be able to send me to the schools of her choosing. Yet so many kids aren’t as fortunate. But because of politics and posturing, most moms and dads don’t have that same freedom that my mom had.

Standing in the way of progress on education are liberal Democrats who continue to argue against a parent’s right to choose the best education for their child.

But why is that?

Allowing parents to choose where their child is educated should be as American as apple pie. More choices would mean more competition and would expose unproductive, failing schools. Liberals and Democrats oppose this. But what’s so bad about a little competition? After all, we promote the idea that our kids are working hard in school and are preparing themselves to compete for jobs in a global job market. So why not apply the same standards of competition in every school system across America?

Our current situation is far from perfect but it can certainly be improved. Let’s stop protecting a failed system. We have thrown money at this problem for years and it’s not getting any better. The status quo only hurts kids. And there are viable solutions that work.

For example, BASIS charter schools seem to have found a formula that works, merging Europe and Asia’s best practices in humanities, science and math with America’s spirit of creativity. BASIS operates 13 campuses in Arizona, Texas and Washington DC which consistently rank among the best in the nation. But it was free-market ingenuity that created the successful BASIS system, not government mandate.

Our education system should be equipping the next generation of leaders to be successful, contributing members of society – not teaching them how to be dependents.

No president or politician should have the final say when it comes to a child’s education. That burden belongs to parents and local representatives.

But don’t tell that to the current administration. The nation’s first African-American president cancelled the voucher program for DC schoolchildren, while sending his daughters to private school and unbelievably, 35 percent of Congressional Black Caucus members exercise private-school choice. Yet these actors rail against parents’ freedom to choose?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character is the true goal of education.”

Every parent or guardian in America should be empowered to make the choice of how his or her child is educated. All children should know their education is not different or less valuable just because of their neighborhood or socioeconomic status.

Our children deserve better than this. America can certainly do better than this.

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