A Policy That Puts Students First

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., is the president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which works with almost 50 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  He had some strong statements to make to Allysia Finley for the Wall Street Journal.  Here are a few key points:

The root problem, Mr. Taylor explains, is that traditional public schools are failing to prepare students. In “economically fragile” communities, many low-income students graduate from high school without basic literacy, and those admitted to HBCUs often need remedial classes. That presents HBCUs with a dual challenge. “When you show up to my college, I’m in trouble and you’re in trouble,” Mr. Taylor says. “I can’t get you through, and the feds are holding me accountable for graduation rates. And you’re frustrated because you feel like you were shafted for 12 years by the secondary-school system—and you were.” …

He adds that “I don’t suggest that charters or vouchers or any of the other options are the panacea.” But he insists that if “you know that the traditional public school system is failing your children, to say, ‘I’m not going to do anything but pour more money into something I know is not working,’ should be criminal. And I know that’s a strong word—but it should be criminal because you are stealing children’s lives.” …

“We are nonpartisan,” he emphasizes before rushing off to give a keynote speech on criminal justice at the Charles Koch Institute’s Advancing Justice annual summit. “I hope we all start thinking: What’s in the best interest of the kid? If we let that be sort of our compass, our guiding light, then you don’t care what the union wants. You don’t care about what the NAACP wants.”

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That’s really the key question, isn’t it?  The only question, ultimately, for public schools.  Revisit a post of mine from 2015 quoting former teacher union head Marcia Reback, who acknowledged that her job was to represent the teachers, not the students.  As Steiny related, “when their interests diverge, she said, ‘I represent the teachers.'”

And yet, our education system — our entire political system, in Rhode Island — is built with a tilt in their favor.  Somebody has to put the students first.

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