The main beneficiaries of education alternatives are minority children. Yet, at the state level, unions provide a unified lobbying front to block such initiatives.
A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed reported on the glowing success of charter schools in Harlem. "Nationwide the average black 12th grader reads at the level of a white eighth grader. Yet, Harlem charter students ....are outperforming their white peers in wealthy suburbs."
Yet, in 2009 the New York teachers union successfully lobbied the state legislature to freeze charter school spending and now is pushing to limit penetration of charters in school districts.
Kids in Los Angeles' public schools are overwhelming Hispanic and black. According to the Los Angeles Times, "just 39 percent of L.A.'s fourth-graders are even basically literate." Yet, the Times attributed union lobbying to undermining a recent attempt by the L.A. school board to open failing schools to non-unionized charters.
Similarly, unions played a major role in recently killing the successful private school scholarship program in Washington, DC.
But there's a significant and promising sign that blacks are beginning to fight back.
Rev. James Meeks, founder and senior pastor of the largest black church in Illinois, who is also a Democrat state senator, is taking on the unions. He has introduced a bill opening the door for vouchers for kids in Chicago's public schools.