Mary Grabar

My idea, however, is not a new one. I give credit to Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee University, who was born a slave. Tuskegee was built by children of slaves, who also grew their own food and produced products, like mattresses, at the school, in the hours they were not studying. In his autobiography, Washington writes about the initial resistance he faced by those who felt they were too good to do manual labor. Eventually, those who participated in the upkeep of the schools built up pride in the school and in themselves. Vandalism was eliminated. One is less inclined to carve one's initials (or paint graffiti) in something one has built himself.

Why not start charter schools in which students would learn the trades? Such schools would provide a good argument for vouchers. It would make such educations affordable for low-income families. Why not find a run-down building and have students fix it up, maintain it, and take care of the grounds? Too many of these adolescents have no fathers at home and live in apartments.

Allowing them to work with their hands would give them an idea of the self-sufficiency necessary to be good family men. One of the pathologies of our culture is that young people of all races no longer have the skills to be self-sufficient and have energy to burn.

An observant parent can tell you that children find self-esteem from doing and accomplishing something—not from some addle-headed teacher proclaiming their value. But the educationists believe that children will get self-esteem because they tell them. So they devise all kinds of curricula. What this has the effect of doing to children who do not get enough exercise is to bore them out of their skulls.

I've raised a son, and seen the listlessness and cynicism among students when eager teachers enthusiastically shed their beneficence as they discuss oppression. I've seen how well-versed college students are in race theory, but ignorant of verbs and nouns.

While high school graduates know about the history of American slavery, they are woefully ignorant of the history of slavery and its current practice. Slavery, indeed, has been an institution that has affected nearly all peoples, including my own, the Slavs. My cousin in Slovenia, who because of poverty could not attend school beyond eighth grade, described how she longed to be reading while she stooped over a hoe under a hot sun. And I've done my fair share of manual work in fields, houses, and restaurants. There is nothing like a stint in one of those areas to give a student an appreciation for work and studying.

Not that all want to or should go to college. The lower-tier universities are full of young people who have been given the lie that they should go to college; they could care less about learning. With vocational training and practical work experience, these youth would have a skill for the job market. Talk to any builder or owner of a business and he will tell you that it is difficult to find skilled craftspeople. With the unemployment rate currently at a low 4.4 percent, the demand for workers is high. A training program would incline employers to hire young vocational school graduates, instead of illegal Mexican immigrants who have a reputation for a strong work ethic.

But the consultants who milk and bilk corporations and government institutions with the "Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder" that an actual slave, Booker T. Washington, did not seem to have will continue to rip off taxpayers and consumers. They exploit the memory of unfortunate victims of real slavery and brainwash the youth.

Washington wrote about the psychological effects of slavery and racism and correctly conveyed the idea that the bigot is the one hurt by his bigotry. Now the "experts" would continue to promote the idea of victimhood more than 150 years after the end of slavery.

But Washington understood the value of work and reading and the independence that comes from self-improvement. Conversely, those who promote "slave disorder" are the new slave masters of the mind.

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at Her writing can be found at