Politics & Prejudices
Rights, reading & race
The state must give every student an education, and is failing woefully
Published: July 18, 2012
But what about kids who don't even have anything resembling a conventional family? Kids living on the streets or in a car, whose parents are absent or dead or selling drugs. Can even the best teachers and the best literacy strategy save those kids?
We probably don't know. But I know it is our responsibility to try to save them, if only out of sheer self-interest. John F. Kennedy once said that "if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, they cannot save the few who are rich." Marx and Lenin knew that too, by the way, in case anyone can take a hint.
Back in 1994, when Proposal A was passed, the voters decided education was primarily a state responsibility.
Now the state needs to do the job, and if the ACLU lawsuit is what it takes to get them to do it, hooray for them.
The color of literacy: Long before the ACLU lawsuit was filed, Hansen Clarke, who is fighting to keep his seat in Congress, has been fighting to increase literacy, "which is our kids' only hope."
What's more, he is willing to work across party lines to accomplish it. To demonstrate this, last weekend he invited a Tea Party Republican colleague from South Carolina into the district.
The two disagree on many things — but recently worked together to sponsor bipartisan legislation to boost literacy among African-American and Hispanic men. The campaign of Clarke's main rival in the Aug. 7 primary, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, professed to be "outraged" that their opponent brought such a person in.
Gee. I thought building coalitions is how things got done legislatively, especially when Democrats are in the minority.
The establishment is making a great effort to bury Clarke and elect Peters, a basic, don't-rock-the-boat conventional Democrat from a white-collar, Merrill Lynch background. Peters probably will win, in part because there are two other black candidates in the race, and maybe because of a scurrilous effort to convince voters that Clarke is not really black. Clarke can be a little zany, and I haven't always agreed with him. But have conventional politicians like Peters been providing the innovative, outside-the-box solutions we badly need?
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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