Monday, June 19, 2006

Educational Genocide by Akindele Akinyemi

It's time to have that talk again on education.

As an promoter of educational options in this city I am fully convinced that the left-wing critics of educational choice are doing a dis-service to our children.

As we begin to swing into election season here in Michigan I would like to ask all of those who are running for state office.

Are you a proponent of educational options?

Many of them will say yes. That's only to receive an endorsement from the Detroit Federation of Teachers or the MEA. And their version of options is within the Detroit Public Schools.

I have never seen so many educators, elected officials and candidates for office afraid to stand up and do what is right. The right thing to do is to help promote educational choice.

However, I can see why they might be afraid to come right on out and support schools of choice. If you were raised around paranoid Black people, who do not even know the facts themselves and rely on Democratic teacher unions propagandam, then you can understand why our people think the way they do.

People think I am a Republican because of opportunities. That's only a small reason why I am a Republican. What brought me over to this side was the fact that this party supports educational choice. Period. Why be a Democrat when no one in your party supports your belief in educational choice. Why beat around the bush?

I am a firm believer in options. It's like placing all your weapons on the table. I am a staunch supporter of vouchers. The reason? Giving our children from the "hood" an opportunity to succeed. Vouchers can work on another level that we do not talk about.

Say for instance, you have a charter school near Mack and Bewick, on the lower east side of Detroit, that is failing and you have a friend who has a private school in Harper Woods that is meeting AYP and have exceeded the state's expectations. If the state is making you close your school due to test scores and low enrollement then you can transfer your children to your friend's school. There is one major problem.


With vouchers, those children will have the tuition needed to go to your friend's school and receive an quality education.

So even thought vouchers were struck down in 2000 in Michigan of course they never thought about what I just said. Especially African Americans.

I am a firm believer of charter schools. The reason? Educational entrepreneurship for young people graduating from college and giving them the opportunity to learn how to run and manage an educational management firm.

The other thing about the charter school itself can be used as a small training ground for our students to prepare them for lifeskills. Lifeskills such as credit management, investments and entrepreneurship. Here is the catch. While most schools offer such classes in traditional public schools this should be a major requirement for graduation from charter institutions. I am also a firm believer that civic education should be taught for two years before graduating from high school. One year learning the basics (execuitve, judical and legislative branches of government) and one year of public policy (designed to help students learn about drafting bills and debating issues on policy). By expanding the school year from 180 days to 225 days out the year we could do this. Again, while Gov. Granholm was signing a bill into law on high school requirements the charter schools can lead the way on expanding school days, implementing a two year civic and character education requirement as well as following the benchmarks that the State of Michigan currently provides for teachers to follow.

I support homeschooling. This is a practice by which parents serve as their children's teachers and the home serves as the school—is an educational choice made today by the parents of an estimated 1.6 million to 2 million children, a number which continues to grow significantly each year.

Parents who prefer the home school option are motivated by a variety of goals. Some seek the chance to teach specific philosophical or religious values. Others see home schooling as a means of developing close family relationships, encouraging high level academics, supporting specific learning needs of children or using alternative approaches to teaching and learning. Other parents choose home education based on concerns they have about the safety and discipline of children in some traditional public schools.

I support educational tax credits. Educational tax credits are a direct reduction in taxes that fully or partially refund expenditures made by parents or others for educational expenses such as tutoring, books, computers, and in some states, private school tuition. State legislation determines the amount of credit and which educational expenses qualify. In some states, families with no tax liability can receive a refund for some or all of the amount spent. Educational tax deductions allow for a certain amount of educational expenses to be deducted from taxable income prior to the calculation of tax liability. A family with no tax liability will receive no benefits from this type of program.

I also believe in public school contracts with private organizations. For many years, school districts have contracted for non-educational services ranging from meals or maintenance to transportation, labor negotiations or data processing. Today a growing number of school districts are expanding those contracts to include education services. In some cases, school districts are turning to private entities to manage individual schools and even entire districts.

I am a firm believer in community learning centers. Most children from age 6 to 16 attend community learning centers that take many different forms. For example, some may be located in museums; others may be connected to farms or greenhouses that produce healthful fruits and vegetables for the centers. Some may be located in workplaces or near theaters or hospitals or connected to churches. Some look like malls in the center of the community, to connect more directly with its resources.

What is certain is that few look like the large, factory-model schools of today. Each community learning center has been designed in response to the needs, interests, and preferences of the community it serves. The centers are part of a public, decentralized educational system operated by neighborhood councils in collaboration with a coordinator for each. Standards for all the centers, however, are set nationally, and most students meet or exceed them. There are elementary programs for 6- to 12-year-olds as well as a broad variety of educational programs for teenagers, and children with special interests may be accommodated even though they live outside the district.

I support distance learning and online education as well. Michigan Virtual High School are pioneers in this effort.

It is a known fact that liberals in our community are working hand in hand with the People for the American Way, NAACP and teacher unions to stop educational choices in Detroit. They have ejected fear to our candidates who are running on an educational platform. The teacher unions and liberal elite have told most of our candidates either they support the teacher union agenda for Detroit Public Schools or they will not be elected.

This type of fear and intimidation must be stopped. The teacher unions have created an air of educational genocide on our children. The MEA, AFT and DFT are spending millions of dollars, to deny low-income parents the right to choose where their children go to school. They fought Robert Thompson's school choice program of allowing 15 charter high schools in Detroit. The DFT even shut down the DPS system to protest in Lansing on this issue. Gov. Granholm did not do anything to promote choice and therefore backed out all together.

To demonstrate DFT's ignorance on this issue had we allowed 15 charter high schools in Detroit 7 out of the 15 charter high schools could have been authorized by Detroit Public Schools (which means they could have pulled the plug at anytime) those young people who have been teaching in the DPS system for over 11 or more years could have been pushed up the educational leadership ladder much faster than waiting around at King or Redford High Schools and would have opened the doors for more educational opportunites for our children.

While grassroot activists demonstrate their ignorance on this critical issue of educational choice (and they are ignorant themselves because most of them do not even have a high school education to begin with) many as 40 percent of public school teachers send their children to private schools, but the unions want to deny low-income parents the same choice. Many of these activists have misled some ministers and other Black organizations, convincing them to oppose schools of choice. If poor children cannot attend a good school, they have no hope of competing with China, India and Germany. Is this fair?

Education was the means for African Americans to overcome the obstacles to success and prosperity in the past. Today the greatest obstacle facing Black children in America is the education system itself. It is time for parents, civic and business leaders and elected officials (including candidates for office) to take on that system and the unions that control it.

How do we stop educational genocide in our community? By giving our parents and children a choice. If we continue to listen to Helen Moore, Agnes Hitchcock or Jana Garrison we will burn in hell.

Education is not about protecting union power. It's about giving our children a future. Let's give our children a future with options.

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