Interestingly, Robert J. Samuelson, columnist for the Washington Post, pinpointed the problem by breaking it down into its components. The OECD study of 15-year-olds puts America right in the middle at 17th (out of 34), with an overall score of 500, just slightly above the average (493). Samuelson pointed out that while the average score for non-Hispanic whites in America is in the top ten (at 525) and that Asian-Americans actually place second in the world, the scores that brought down American averages were among blacks (441) and Hispanics (466). Only students in Shanghai, China outperformed Asian-Americans (although the study doesn’t state how the other billion or so Chinese fared).
The vast majority of America’s blacks and Hispanics are located in the large cities, and – again, no surprise here – these are the areas where the Democrats and their union friends have the greatest control. And yet, there is very little demand from the left to do anything about this. Of course, most of them are too busy car-pooling their children to private schools.
A recent documentary, "Waiting for Superman," awakened the left to how bad the problem has become. Oprah Winfrey saw the movie and did a show on it, as if she had never known there was a problem with inner-city schools. All of a sudden the left woke up to who actually created the problem – they did.
Before "Waiting for Superman," there was a 2010 documentary by Madeleine Sackler called "The Lottery." Her film covers some of the same territory as "Waiting for Superman," with some of the same principal characters. "The Lottery" focuses on four families, each of whom is attempting to get a child enrolled into a charter school in New York City. The film illustrates the desperation and despair of those who suffer under the yoke of the New York’s education establishment – a burden and a challenge no different than those faced by parents and children in every other major city in the nation. The test scores shown by the OECD study show the devastating effects of these bureaucracies on the children of America.
Eva Moskowitz runs the charter school that is the focus of "The Lottery." The film depicts her attempt to open a second school, along with the reprehensible reaction of the teachers union, which hired ACORN protesters to try and stop the second charter from being opened (ironically, at the location of a former NYC school which was shut down due to poor performance). The interaction between Moskowitz and the school board/city council members is riveting.
Families are staking everything on getting their kids into her schools because they know their childrens’ futures depend on it. And, yet, she is treated as a pariah by politicians whose first priority is to protect the unions.
Ultimately, when the lottery takes place, you experience the elation of the winners, but worse, you share the devastation of the losers. No child in America should be forced to have their future determined by picking their name out of a hat. That is what the public education system has done to these kids.
The responsibility lies in the hands of the education establishment, their union cronies, and, yes, the teachers who vote for and accept these unions and their leaders. They are all guilty of destroying the future of urban children throughout America. The question becomes how we tear down their structure.
Next week we will visit a charter school in Los Angeles to get some answers.