Thursday, April 11, 2013

Black Rednecks and White Liberals - Part 4

Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell includes several essays on a variety of subjects. I'm handling them individually.

The last essay I am covering is one that deals with the achievements, myths and tragedies of Black Education. He states, “Education has played a crucial role in the advancement of blacks over the generations -- and the lags of blacks behind others in the American economy. In order to understand both the lags and the advancement, it is necessary to understand the extremely low level from which the education of most black Americans began and the education that would qualify them for many of the occupations in which education was essential.”

While racial barriers kept blacks out of certain occupations for many years, even with the fall of the barriers, very few blacks were sufficiently educated to fill the positions. But in the first half of the twentieth century that changed dramatically. Before the passage of the civil rights laws, blacks were granted more and more degrees each year, increasing the number of black with a college degree exponentially. This increase in education led to a stunning increase in economic conditions in the two decades PRECEDING the 1960s. In 1940, 87% of black families lived below the poverty level. By 1960 it was 47% and by 1970 it was 30%. After a decade of affirmative action and civil rights enforcement, the level fell to 29% - a measly 1% difference.

This should give us pause before advocating for certain policies. These government policies did not cause black economic empowerment and may have even stopped it in its tracks. The major difference was the quality and quantity of education made available to black students. 

There are no shortage of phenomenal academic establishment that produce academically gifted minority students. Dunbar School in Washington D.C. produced black students that consistently out-performed the neighboring white schools. Yet these places have been ignored because they taught from a cultural perspective that did not celebrate the black redneck culture that blacks had inherited in their Southern roots. These segregated schools, with their historical New England or European roots, represent a threat to the intellectuals that have a vested interest in the current educational fads and mantras. It is not successful students these dogmatists seek, but rather more money, votes, and the prestige of offering trending courses and programs. The failure of the students leads to more success for the betters.

Yet, after offering minorities sub-standard education in sub-standard schools taught by sub-standard teachers, these pious defenders of the status-quo demand the ill-prepared student be sacrificed to the god of diversity and admitted to a college in which he cannot possibly compete. That this system leads to massive drop-out and failure does not give the do-gooders pause. Politics trumps all.

While outstanding academic results are clearly possible with minority students, far too few are willing to take on the entrenched establishment of teacher unions and bureaucracies. Far too few are willing to challenge black students and families to work harder and seek educational excellence. The truth of what is needed is sacrificed to keep whites from being called racists and to keep the poverty pimps in business.

Highly recommend this book for its iconoclastic views on so much of what we take for granted.

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