Merry Christmas

By Dr. Harold A. Black

This Christmas, like all the ones before, I am grateful to have been blessed with great parents who had struggled to get an education and who made it easy for me and my brother to go to school. Dad’s parents did not finish college and his mother was a domestic. His father drove a coal truck. His mother would not let her three girls do any housework saying that she was not training the next generation of maids. Instead, they all went to HBCUs and became school teachers. Dad and his three brothers all graduated from college and the older children helped finance the education of their younger siblings. Mother’s father was a farmer but her mother had a high school degree and was the one-room school marm for black kids in Jones County, GA. Mother received the first four-year degree from Fort Valley State University (GA) and is considered the mother of that university. Both of my parents had master’s degrees and both my brother and I have Ph.Ds.

My parents spent much of their lives trying to help educate black children in the Atlanta public schools. I am bitter about very few things. However, I am bitterly disappointed in the black intelligentsia and their opposition to improving the education of poor children. When I was growing up in Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement, blacks made up over 50 percent of the school-age population but only had 6 of the 20 or so high schools in Atlanta. So our schools were big. We had horrible facilities, used textbooks with white school’s names on them and had no scientific equipment in our labs. However, we had terrific teachers. Back in those days, teaching was a well-paying job for a black college graduate and we had tons of male teachers too. I got a great public school education. Now our public school teachers use teaching methods that do not work and make excuses for their failure. I thought that once blacks got the vote, we would elect city officials and school boards who cared about educating our children. I thought that the reason why black kids got shafted was because white officials who got elected by running on a racist platform were actively discriminating against blacks. Well, it was true. So we got the vote, the whites fled the city, we voted the bums out and put in place black mayors, city councils and school boards. And what happened? Educational achievement went down. Why? First better jobs opened up for black college graduates. Teacher’s standards eroded as well as accountability. My beloved mother who taught second grade for 40 years complained about the deteriorating quality of the teachers – saying that they were unprofessional in their dress and behavior. Second, the teacher’s unions became a political force and were more interested in “social justices” than in academic achievement and third, the black politicians began to be manipulated and bribed.

What was ironic is that the only politicians who seemed to care were the Republicans who pushed for vouchers and charter schools – both of which demonstrated higher achievements among black urban kids than the public schools. Of course, both have been derided and panned by liberal democrats and their black sycophants. Well, vouchers work. Charter schools work. What we need is a market solution to the problem of low achievements in education. The market would not tolerate a system that is so bankrupt, so corrupt and so poor that damages and destroys our children. Most urban parents are not equipped to home-school their kids so that is not an option. However, many charter schools and private Catholic schools show a startling juxtaposition of the same kids from the same environment having radically different academic results. It is a national shame that we have allowed our education system to become so woeful. In a market system, poorly performing schools would have been put out of business and their teachers and administrators fired. Instead, they have been rewarded with ever-increasing salaries, benefits, pensions and tenure. So when I once wrote, “Why do democrats hate black kids?” I meant every word. I also include among that number the black leaders of the teacher’s unions and every so-called black leader and civil rights organization that remain silent rather than making this the number one issue in black America.