News & Politics

The Real 'Structural Racism' Is In America's Union-Run Schools

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

“[I]f ever there were a structure systemically keeping African-Americans from getting ahead, it would surely be America’s big-city public-school systems,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn. And McGurn has the facts and figures to back up that statement.

Schools are supposed to be giving students the tools they need to survive in society. But what if America’s public schools are failing to give black kids even the rudiments of an education? The failure is total and pronounced.

Look, for example, at the most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card. For the past 20 years, achievement has been broken down by school district level in its Trial Urban District Assessment. Of the 27 U.S. urban school districts that reported their results for 2019—from Boston and Chicago to Fort Worth, Texas, and Los Angeles—not a single one can say a majority of the black eighth graders in their care are proficient in either math or reading.

Incredibly, “In a number of these school districts, proficiency rates for black eighth-graders are down in the single digits.” That suggests deliberate malfeasance on the part of those districts. In New York City, for example, proficiency rates for black eighth-graders are 10 percent in math and 14 percent in English.

Detroit’s 4% for math and 5% for reading and Milwaukee’s 5% for math and 7% for reading suggests that the rot is “systemic,” to coin a word. Are these school districts deliberately shortchanging black kids due to “racism”?

It’s not the money being spent that’s the problem. The census has the figures.

“Of the 100 largest public school systems (based on enrollment), the six that spent the most per pupil in FY 2019 were the New York City School District in New York ($28,004), Boston City Schools in Massachusetts ($25,653), Washington Schools in the District of Columbia ($22,406), San Francisco Unified in California ($17,228), Atlanta School District in Georgia ($17,112), and Seattle Public Schools in Washington ($16,543).”

The left has been trying to sweep these embarrassing statistics under the rug by “getting rid of the achievement tests that expose it, doubling down on race preferences and trying to hamstring the schools that show black children can and do learn in the right environment,” writes McGurn. The radicals use race as a distraction to deflect attention from their failures, hoping to entice the media to cover the spin and not the real story.

Their problem is compounded by the simple fact that what these statistics show is that their entire educational philosophy is wrong — not only wrong but blatantly racist. Their racism couldn’t be more obvious even if they created a billboard saying “Black Kids Are Worthless.”

There are several factors at play for inner-city black youth that aren’t prevalent in the suburbs. But there are pockets of black achievement even in the most violent, drug-ridden neighborhoods. They can be found in charter schools and private parochial schools. But instead of making it easier for black parents to send their kids to schools that will make the effort to educate them, teachers’ unions—and politicians who cater to their agenda—try to limit opportunities for back parents to take their children out of violent, failing schools.

The hostility shown by the unions,  and the politicians who are owned by them, toward the concept of parents having the freedom to choose where their children attend school would be inexplicable unless you consider the racist thinking behind denying parents that freedom.