I was aghast to read Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's response to a question from The New York Times columnist John Tierney, "How long will blacks vote for a party that opposes the voucher programs they strongly favor?"
Doyle's response: "I don't think this is an issue that moves voters."
The discussion took place in context of the Democrat governor's opposition to moves to expand the number of vouchers available in the immensely popular and successful school choice program in Wisconsin.
In a recently released Zogby poll, only 3 percent of respondents, with barely any difference between Democrats and Republicans, listed "Education/Schools" as the two top issues facing the country.
Maybe Doyle is right. After all, getting elected is his business. But mine is writing about what I think is important. From a black perspective, education is critically important.
Specifically, I think hope for the future of America's black community hinges on education and whether we can succeed in getting school choice implemented nationally.
Here's the logical progression. Poverty persists disproportionately in the black community. Education, which correlates perfectly and positively with earning power, is the antidote to poverty. Key to breaking the cycle of poverty is getting black kids educated.
But this is not happening. Inner city black kids drop out of school at alarmingly high rates, and those who make it through are finishing with poor skills.
Another powerful correlation with earning power is family. Higher income families are disproportionately households headed by a married couple. Poor households are disproportionately headed by single parents.
Based on 2002 census data, of all children living in families earning $75,000 per year and over, 90 percent are in families headed by a married couple. Of all children living in families earning $15,000 per year and less, 75 percent are living in families headed by single parent.
As of 2000, according to the census bureau, about 63 percent of black families were headed by a single parent and 26 percent of white families were headed by a single parent.
Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute, in a recent article, shows the link between education, economics, and traditional families.
Despite the hoopla about the new independent woman, Hymowitz reports that 90 percent of women with a college degree get married prior to having children. This is true of only 64 percent of women with 9 to 14 years of education.