The power of education

My latest op-ed appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Wednesday. Predictably, any mention of race brings out the haters among us – and yesterday’s article was no exception. Why people feel the need to email me with their charges that this is all President Obama’s fault (really?) is beyond me. Of course, I also get some positive emails as well.Those remind me that not everyone out there reading the newspaper is nuts.

Anyway – a couple of links that inspired the article. First, there was this article on TCC’s successful efforts to increase black enrollment. And there was this report (pdf) from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Research at UVA, which came out late last month and has, for the most part, received little notice.

If you are not familiar with the Hampton Roads Committee of 200+ Men, their website is here.

My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot on Wednesdays (unless something comes up, in which case it’s Thursdays). You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.


One thought on “The power of education

  1. A very good article. The problem is not race — Blacks are no dumber than Whites, who are no dumber than Asians. It’s a matter of culture.

    I applaud the efforts to close those gaps, but we must be very careful that the efforts are focused on education, not on closing the gaps. It does not good to close the gaps by pushing people through the system without their actually getting the education the system is supposed to provide. Graduating more Blacks from college does them no good if they are not ready for work. Getting more Blacks to graduate from High School and go to college does nothing for them if they are not prepared for college. This goes all the way back to Kindergarten. Head Start is a great program for what it is, but I have seen studies that say the Head Start kids are right back in the middle of the pack by fourth grade — the push has stopped. That push should come from the parents, but it is not. (I suspect that an analysis like that which showed that the driving force in crime is not race but single motherhood would show that it is single motherhood, not race, that drives the educational achievement gap.)

    We have a NPO up here in Alexandria that helps young Blacks learn to read. My church was a major sponsor of the program. I asked whether they had done any studies on the long-term effectiveness of their program, since it has been in place for many years. They actually got viscerally angry with me for suggesting that such a study should be done. They were working off the correlation between early reading, crime, and finishing High School, without considering that there may be an underlying cause (family culture) for all three, and that treating one symptom was not going to help the other two, which was their stated goal.

    What kids need is sustained attention from adults who care about them and believe in them, at least through High School. At that point, the education mantra should be drilled into them pretty well, and the sustained expectation that they will graduate from college will be part of them.

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