Legislation is now moving through the Oklahoma legislature that would allow a 50 percent tax credit to individuals or businesses contributing to a fund that would provide scholarships for low-income kids in failing schools to go to a private school.
The heroes here are two black Democrats -- Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre and Rep. Jabar Shumate. Going against the grain of their party, and against the Oklahoma union and public-school establishments, these brave souls are championing this initiative.
The bill has already passed the Oklahoma Senate, where Eason McIntyre co-sponsored it with a conservative Republican. It's now waiting to be scheduled for a vote in the House.
Tax credits are evolving as the preferred mechanism for school choice because they channel private funds and are less exposed to legal challenge. And, structured as the Oklahoma initiative is, the funds are targeted to low-income kids in failing schools.
The great irony is that, politically, it has been Democrats who have opposed school choice and, despite disproportionate education problems in the black community, black political leadership has been generally opposed, as has the NAACP.
Both Democratic presidential candidates, as they heap criticism on No Child Left Behind, oppose helping get education options into the hands of parents. Barack Obama's two daughters attend private school in Chicago, and Hillary Rodham Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, attended the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.
It is the simplest logic that an effort to solve a problem cannot be deemed sincere if all options for addressing that problem are not pursued.
Complex social realities, starting with family, create special challenges in getting many black kids, and children of other minorities, educated. We owe it to them to offer options, including private- and church-school alternatives to public schools.
Kudos to Judy Eason McIntyre and Jabar Shumate. We need more like them.
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