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Supporting educational choice for our children

10/6/2017, 12:01 p.m.
Trice Edney News Wire/EducationPost.org We are two black men separated by 42 years in age. But we are bound by ...

Trice Edney News Wire/EducationPost.org

We are two black men separated by 42 years in age. But we are bound by our collective rage about what is happening to our people.

We are focused on education where there is more than enough to be angry about. Every day, countless numbers of our children do not receive the quality education they must have in order to have even a modicum of a chance to live a decent life in today’s world.

Yet when some of us raise our voices and pursue more options for our children, we are accused of supporting “privatization” or doing the bidding of rich “hedge fund” owners or supporting “segregation.”

But we will not be deterred. As long as educational atrocities keep happening to our children, we will seek whatever options there are to help families navigate existing education systems and create new ones that will enable their children to engage in the practice of freedom.

We support any type of school, educational environment or policy initiative that meets the needs and interests of our children. In the same vein, we will oppose any policies or learning environments that are hurting our children — whether they are traditional public schools, charter schools or private schools.

As we write this, only 17 percent of black students are considered college and career ready. According to the National Association of Educational Progress, black fourth-graders represent the largest percentage of students below basic at 49 percent and the lowest percentage proficient at 18 percent. The story gets worse for eighth-graders. More than half — 53 percent — of black eighth-graders nationally are below basic in math.

The consequence isn’t merely poor test scores for our people. It is about what it represents. When we have drastic low achievement, our risk of dying grows. We have both buried students and friends that couldn’t read. When the link between low achievement and poor schooling has a straight line to the death and destruction of our people, and we can see it clear as day, we will never stop fighting.

We make this pledge as free black men who will not be pigeonholed or intimidated by rhetoric from our opponents and, most assuredly, we won’t be silenced by their tactic of guilt by association.

We say this because those of us who support parent choice are accused of being in bed with Donald Trump. The two of us have been absolutely clear in our opposition to President Trump. Our people were fighting for parent choice long before President Trump was born. We will not yield on our righteous support for parent choice because this idea is supported by him or his administration. We believe there are ways to reach the goals of increasing the power of our people in the educational realm without walking through the fiery gate of the wrong side of history that is Donald Trump.

More than ever, like-minded black folks have to pull together and move as a force in our never-ending struggle to free our children from the so-called “one best system.” In order for that to happen, it is going to take a multigenerational approach, which at various times in our history, has been difficult for us to do as a people.