The spirit of George Wallace is alive and well -- among left-wing zealots in some of America's most "progressive" taxpayer-funded schools.
In Oberlin, Ohio, local school board president Tony Marshall argues that only black high school teachers should teach "black history." Non-black educators may be able to teach black students to write well, conduct research, and digest accurate facts and information. But arming black students with the same fundamentals that every other student needs to succeed is apparently not what Marshall wants for his kids: "A black teacher brings an experience and understanding of being black that no else can bring."
If Marshall had to choose between hiring white historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and black rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, in other words, he'd rather have the pot-smoking, profanity-spewing, gang-banging convicted felon in the classroom because of Snoop's skin-deep "experience and understanding."
Phyllis Yarber Hogan, a member of something called the Oberlin Black Alliance for Progress, agrees: "When you talk about slavery," she told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week, "students need to understand it is not our fault. Our ancestors did nothing wrong to be enslaved. How do you work through that when the person teaching it is the same type of person who did the enslaving?"
Miss Dalton, the passionate white grade-school teacher who assigned me Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Sister Laurita, the demanding white nun who drilled Civil War-era history into my brain in high school, and every non-black educator who has ever exposed a child to the Gettysburg Address or the Amistad trial or the abolitionist movement, would be shocked to know they are now viewed by a vocal portion of the black educational establishment as morally the "same type of person who did the enslaving."
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, up to their eyeballs in political corruption scandals and campaign finance evasion and embezzlement investigations, naturally have nothing to say about this blatant classroom racism. But oh, can you even imagine the national uproar if a white school board president and a "White Alliance for Progress" objected to black teachers teaching 19th century American history because they were the "same type of persons" who were ignorant slaves at the time?
Such are the twisted double standards of diversity at the dawn of the 21st century. And they are being enjoyed and exploited by most every minority special-interest group.
In New York City, "separate but equal" has made a forceful comeback in the form of the "Harvey Milk School" -- the nation's first publicly run high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. "Everybody feels that it's a good idea because some of the kids who are gays and lesbians have been constantly harassed and beaten in other schools and this lets them get an education without having to worry," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters this week.
"This school will be a model for the country and possibly the world," Principal William Salzman crowed to the New York Post. Presumably, to eliminate all "worries," there will be no threatening heterosexual teachers around to teach gay history or bisexual math or transgendered geography. Presumably, to mitigate harassment, the school will build four separate bathroom and locker room facilities. And perhaps -- here's a novel segregationist idea in the name of safety -- Harvey Milk students should be protected when quenching their thirsts through the use of separately labeled drinking fountains.
Forty years after George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door, educational segregationism is thriving. Close your eyes and you will hear the same militant refrain being echoed from public school halls and classrooms: "I draw the line in the dust . . . and I say segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever . . . "
The only difference is that Wallace's heirs have traded in the white robes of the redneck Klan for the rainbow sheets of the multicultural clan. My, how we've progressed.