Next education cash cow: Early Childhood Ed


(12/31/2003)

From: Warren D. Grantham

I get a little nervous when the very people who are responsible for the mess we have in our current education system hammer the message that they need to bring kids into the education system even earlier. They want to do it through Early Childhood Family Education so that they can make a difference in how the kids arrive at the K-12 doorstep. This makes me nervous because we have proof of the damage that they can do in 13 years. Do they really think that adding another two or three is going to make that big a difference in the outcomes?

My interest in this has a lot to do with the fact that a few eons ago, I was one of those failing kids. When we talk about failing schools and the kids that are not making it, we are talking mainly about black kids"African American youngsters primarily in grades 3 to 12, who are now in the process of being written off (left behind) in favor of black kids, ages 3 to 5"”mainly because of the money that will come to the districts to expand the Early Childhood Family Education programs.

Minnesota's education bureaucrats have spent scores of billions of dollars on K-12 education in the past decade. Nevertheless, we now have to hang our head in shame because we have the distinction of being the worst state in the nation in the racial divide in K-12 education. Even the black kids that manage to somehow graduate end up four full years behind their white counterparts in math and reading skills. How can we justify such dismal results? This is a matter of justice. It is a civil rights issue in search of a champion. Moreover, until this system serves its current ‘clients' better, how can you possibly justify expanding it?

The ‘educrats' are not the only ones to blame for the continuing dismal results, however. There are many in the ‘communities of color' who by their silence are complicit in this wholesale destruction of a generation. Black leaders ought to be outraged. It is very worrisome that they will initiate a march on city hall in defense of a convicted criminal because of some alleged police brutality, but they will not walk a city block to a failing high school to highlight the injustices being perpetrated on our most innocent and vulnerable daily. Each day that these kids are forced to stay in these failing schools is another day that their futures are being stolen from them. The so-called community leaders choose to sit idly by while the minds of these kids are plundered. Such complicity in destroying the futures of these kids is unacceptable. Whether they consciously or unconsciously participate in this immoral act does not matter. The results are the same: it ensures that these leaders will have plenty of criminals to defend down on the steps of city hall.

When the education system fails, especially little black boys, there is another system right there waiting to welcome them in. Prison labor is productive and it does not require a high school diploma. It does not require the ability to read or write and it seems that this present education system is preparing them very well to fit into that system.

I implore you to visit any inner city school where there are large numbers of black kids, before you decide to bring even younger kids into this system. It is a system that turns out inferiorly educated black kids and to simply say that the school system needs to be involved earlier is doing nothing more than blaming the parents for what the education system considers inferior parenting.

No matter how you look at it, this racial divide in education is inherently racist. I will concede that the past racial damage to a couple of generations of black kids has been unintentional. However, now that we know that black kids who graduate from high school do so a full four years behind their white counterparts in math and reading abilities, we have moved from unintentional racism to deliberate racism when we demand that these kids stay in this system. To introduce even younger, more impressionable minds to this failed system is immoral.

It should be very clear for all to see that the education bureaucrats are interested in Early Childhood Family Education for only one reason"”the dollars that it brings to the system, not for the children, as they loudly chant.

(Warren D. Grantham is the executive director of the Minnesota Education League.)

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