The Urban Plantation

October 5, 2010 04:06

When the academic Left brought the union big guns into the D.C. mayoral race, the president and the Secretary of Education went to ground. Barack Obama and Arne Duncan are in danger of confirming a Chicago stereotype: talking that reform talk, but seldom walking the walk.

By G. Murphy Donovan at American Thinker


The blight in the District of Columbia infects higher education, too. The University of the District of Columbia is ever in danger of losing accreditation and has one of the worst graduation rates in the country. D.C. public options are so bad that residents receive subsidies to pursue degrees in other states. Again, the taxpayer pays twice: for a sub-par college, and for subsidies that take serious students elsewhere. If public school teachers and administrators could be sued for malpractice, the schoolhouse might improve overnight.

Unlike most urban Democrats, the incumbent, Adrian Fenty, was a genuine reformer. He actually hired a no-nonsense Education Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, and gave her the power to fire teachers, relieve principals, and close failing schools. Ms. Rhee did all of these things at the risk of putting her boss out of work. Indeed, Mayor Fenty lost the recent Democrat primary.

When Fenty and Rhee touched the third rail of reform, the academic left mobilized. Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Mary Cheh of the D.C. City Council made common cause.
The dim prospect of genuine schoolhouse reform in cities like the District of Columbia is not just a local phenomenon. The national outlook is grim, too, in spite of all the disingenuous rhetoric in programs like the so-called “Race to the Top.”

When the academic Left brought the union big guns into the D.C. mayoral race, the president and the Secretary of Education went to ground. As Fenty and Rhee were getting mugged by teacher union money, the national Democratic leadership refused to campaign for real education reformers in their own party, in their own front yard.

Indeed, the most notorious example of “black on black” crime might be the American public school system.

In short, K through 12 has become an affirmative action program for unionized nitwits. Such swamps are not easily drained, and the muck is now generational.

Yet black parents continue to vote for the urban plantation. Marion Barry ran and won four terms as mayor in D.C. If he ran today, he would probably win again.

On Sunday, 26 September, Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared on “Meet the Press” and preached that “we must have the moral courage” to change. We have no evidence that Messrs. Gray, Duncan, or Obama have the moral courage or integrity to adopt any education policy any more enlightened than “business as usual.”


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