Thomas Sowell

What Ben Chavis and the American Indian Model Schools are really guilty of is creating academic excellence that shows up the public school system, both by this school's achievements and by the methods used to create those achievements, which go against the educational dogmas prevailing in the failing public schools.

If it seems strange that there would be a vendetta against an educator who has defied the education establishment and thereby improved the education of minority students, the fact is that Ben Chavis is only the latest in a long line of educators who have done just that -- and aroused animosity, and even vindictiveness, as a result.

Washington's former public school head, Michelle Rhee, raised test scores in that city's school system and was demonized by the education establishment and politicians. She has left.

Years ago, high school math teacher Jaime Escalante, whose success in teaching Mexican American students was celebrated in the movie Stand and Deliver, was eventually hounded out of Garfield High School in Los Angeles. Yet, while he was there, about one-fourth of all Mexican American students -- in the entire country -- who passed Advanced Placement Calculus came from that one school.

Marva Collins, who established a very successful private school for black children in Chicago, doing so on a shoestring, was likewise the target of hostility when she was a dedicated teacher in the public schools.

Other examples could be cited of educators who produced outstanding results for minority students -- in New York, Houston and other places -- and faced the wrath of the education establishment, which sees schools as places to provide jobs for teachers, rather than education for students, and which will not tolerate challenges to its politically correct dogmas.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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