Friday, February 4, 2011

Distorting the Civil Rights Legacy

Senator Anthony Williams was recently quoted saying, Standing in the way of school choice for needy kids in failing urban schools is like Gov. George Wallace standing in the doorway of a classroom to continue the segregation of the ‘60s. Why would we block access to great schools for children in need?


Here’s a link to the Commonwealth Foundation’s coverage of a “George Wallace” ad recently run in several newspapers statewide with funding from the Center for Education Reform:


Although the following article is a few years old it still speaks volumes on this issue:

Rethinking Schools
Distorting the Civil Rights Legacy
By Barbara Miner, Spring 2004
Almost 45 years ago, Charles McDew helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization that left its mark on history for its efforts to desegregate public facilities and register black voters in the South.
McDew, SNCC's chair from 1961 to 1964, remembers all too well the heart-rending moments of the Civil Rights Movement—such as in 1964 when he watched federal authorities pull the bodies of murdered black men and boys from the bottom of the Natchez River in Mississippi. His experience leaves him with little patience for claims that taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools are a new Civil Rights Movement.  "It's absolute nonsense," he says.

At heart, the Civil Rights Movement was about expanding the government's democratic commitment to protecting the rights of all. Vouchers are about getting the government to walk away from that responsibility and leaving everything to individual, private-sector solutions.
Wilkins says, "Vouchers give people this illusory sense that somebody is trying to do something for poor black kids. If they really cared about poor black kids, they would roll up their sleeves and help us fix our public schools."


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