GOP Chairman Reince Priebus recently wrote an op ed at CNN.com titled “Why School Choice is a Civil Rights Issue.” In it, Priebus lays out the history of the fight for equal education and the arguments for school choice nationwide (of which there are many).
Thankfully, the days of police physically blocking the school doorway to keep out minority students are behind us. But the fight for equal opportunity in education lives on.
According to a 2011 study, more than 40% of black students were assigned to schools that are underperforming, and they are much less likely to graduate high school. Among high school graduates in 2010, just 52% of black males and 58% of Hispanic males completed high school in four years, compared to 78% of white males.
That’s why education remains a civil rights issue — the civil rights issue of our time, and it demands action from all of us.
Fighting for school choice is one of the ways to take action. For most students today, their neighborhood or zip code determines their school. That means some kids, by no fault of their own, are forced into a failing school. They don’t have a choice.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly cannot claim that my work has had any modicum (or emoticon, if you’re Meghan McCain) of influence on Priebus but I have been begging the GOP to take on school choice as an election issue winner for a couple of years now.
As a black mother and someone who has actually run inner city charter school lotteries I have seen firsthand the desperation of minority parents trying to escape their failing public school systems. It is heart-wrenching. It is infuriating. It is what stirred me to support school choice even while I was still a know-it-all liberal (before I became a know-it-all conservative).
There is no need to beat a dead horse. We all know the GOP has been struggling to reach and sway minority voters for many years now. To be fair, it is not entirely their fault. The well-oiled spin machine that is the Democrat party has launched a decades long campaign – aided by the traditional media – to erase their KKK-founding, slavery supporting, segregationist history and place the burden of racism squarely at the feet of the party of abolition.
The Republicans did themselves no favors by simply accepting that they had lost the publicity battle and walking away from the communities they were originally founded to protect. Combine all that with a steady stream of old, rich, white male candidates whom have been nearly impossible to make relatable at election time and you can see why many American minorities, specifically black Americans, are distrustful of the modern GOP.
I have said for ages now that the way to get our message to these communities is to get back to our roots. Take up the mantle of civil rights once again. History is on our side. This is another blog post for another day but I can’t help but feel that the GOP misses a grand publicity opportunity every February when Black History Month rolls around. But I digress.
Priebus is right. School choice is the civil rights issue of our day. I recognize that school choice is important for all children of all races, but when we are talking about winning minority support in communities we haven’t been seen in for years, school choice is not just an “issue”…its a necessity. Republicans, libertarians and most (I)ndependents are overwhelmingly in favor of choice. The only political party/group that stands in resolute opposition to choice is the Democrat party.
Priebus rightly (if not a bit diplomatically) points this out in his op ed post:
It’s hard to understand why so many in the other party, including the Obama administration, oppose proven school choice programs like those in Louisiana or in the District of Columbia, whether their opposition takes the form of lawsuits, legislation, or misinformation.
If Priebus and his colleagues at the RNC are truly serious about winning they will continue to take public stands like this one and they will encourage their candidates to talk about school choice in this same manner ad nauseam. It should be the main platform for every candidate. Every time some mainstream media stenographer tries to bring up questions or hot-button issues to distract the candidates they should ask why they (the media) are so afraid of black children having the same educational opportunities as their white counterparts in better neighborhoods. Every. Time.
School choice is the most important issue, not votes.
However, we won’t get school choice if we don’t first elect politicians who will support school choice and support children first. I’m glad to see the GOP is at least taking steps to get back to their roots, win votes, and give children of all races a fighting chance when it comes to education. As Priebus points out:
Until equal opportunity in education is a reality for all kids — of all races, of all backgrounds, of all abilities — our work isn’t done.
*Kira Davis is a popular video blogger, writer and IJR’s official Op-Ed Diva-in-Chief. Follow Kira @KiraAynDavis