Star Parker

The measure to give the mayor more authority wound up being watered down as result of pressure from the unions.

Plus, in the queue for the governor's signature, along with the bill to give the mayor more power, will be another bill passed by the California State legislature that prohibits teachers, textbooks, instructional materials and all school-sponsored activities from "reflecting adversely" on homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals.

This will certainly do wonders for low-income Latino and black students, who can't read, add, subtract and who have a 50 percent likelihood of not graduating.

According to data just released by the Census Bureau, the gap in median income between the top 20 percent in the nation and the bottom 60 percent continues to increase. It's about double what it was 30 years ago.

The rewards for education and the penalty for lack thereof are becoming increasingly pronounced. The hole into which Latino and black kids are falling in the Los Angeles school system, and other school systems in our nation's large cities, is one they're never going to be able to crawl out of.

During the last week we were reminded of the face of poverty in America that Hurricane Katrina brought to the nation's TV screens. There was a supposed outrage. But how can there be outrage that is not accompanied by bold measures?

The path out of poverty is education. To tolerate incremental change of public education in America, knowing full well that large numbers of inner city kids will not be helped, does not shine flattering light on the moral state of the nation.

In the last week, along with the focus on Katrina, there were retrospectives on the 10th anniversary of welfare reform. Courageous and innovative reform of our welfare system in 1996 produced sweeping and historic change, moving millions from government dependence to work. The reform took place in the face of opposition of the guardians of the status quo.

We must address our profound problems in education with similar resolve and boldness. Market based innovation and competition must be allowed to come into play, and we must let parents choose where to send their child to school.

To not allow this to happen, to not even give it a chance, particularly in a nation that is supposed to be free, is a moral outrage.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.