Tag Archives: school choice

BOOK REVIEW: Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed by Jason L. Riley

StopHelpingUs5 of 5 Stars

Recommended for: Every conservative in America especially those that are interested in education.

Up until this year, I had never heard of Jason Riley. I listen to Benjamin Weingarten’s TheBlaze Books podcast (If you are a political and book nerd like me, then you need to be listening to this podcast!), and he had him on as a guest back in July. Weingarten had him on again in mid-August, on that episode they discussed Ferguson, Missouri.

I was incredibly impressed with Riley, and somehow or another, I ended up with an email and an offer to review the book. Time has gotten away from me, and I should have had this review done sooner.

I have always been fascinated at how the left has been able to capitalize and utilize black voters to their advantage. While they get their vote, they continue to promote policies that do nothing but harm black people. Put that in context of the fact that they were the party of slavery and Jim Crow, it is probably the most successful hoodwink in the history of our Republic.

Please Stop Helping Us is short in length, but long in implication and importance. In 175 pages and six short chapters, Riley tears apart the lunacy that is liberal special interest politics. Well-cited, and filled with personal stories to contextualize his topic, Riley presents an engaging read that challenges so many stereotypes and fictions that Americans wrongfully believe.

Riley states in the introduction:

This book examines the track record of the political left’s serial altruism over the past half century. Have popular government policies and programs that are aimed at helping blacks worked as intended? And where the black advancement has occurred, do these government efforts deserve the credit that they so often receive?…In theory these efforts [welfare, minimum wage, affirmative action, soft on crime laws, and a mistaken belief school choice is harmful] are meant to help. In practice they become barriers to moving forward. Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results.

Chapter one, Black Man in the White House, takes a look at the implication of Barack Obama’s election as President in the historical context of black political history.

Chapter two, Culture Matters, is a brave chapter. Riley uses his own personal narrative to approach the issue of black culture. Riley first discusses absentee fathers within the black community. While his mother and father did not remain together, Riley had a father that was present and involved in his life.

“And though they couldn’t save their marriage, my parents were resolved to save their kids. What this meant in practice was that they tried, with mixed results, to minimize the impact of America’s black subculture on their children.”

Riley was the only one of four siblings to escape this culture. Sadly, Riley lost two of his siblings to drugs and his older sister became a single mom.

Riley enjoyed school, and the byproduct of this was that Riley was picked on by other blacks and members of his own family. He tells a story of his nine-year-old niece attacking his proper speech, “Why you talk white, Uncle Jason?” Turning to her friend, she continued, “Don’t my uncle sound white? Why he trying to sound so smart?” Somehow black culture has equated white with being intelligent and learned.

Riley moves on from his personal narrative to a discussion of the impact of black culture on the educational performance of black people. Pulling heavily from educational studies, Riley paints a picture of black culture that is ignorant to the importance of education and destroying itself from the inside out.

“Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has lead to socioeconomic advancement for other groups…A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future.

Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers.”

Chapter three, The Enemy Within, takes a look at the issues of crime inside of the black community. Riley once again starts out with personal anecdotes about encounters with law enforcement. While frustrating, Riley once again courageously puts the blame on the reality of the situation. In this case, we are referring to high black crime rates. Riley states, “The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.” The chapter is full of statistical evidence that bolsters Riley’s position. As Riley says in his conclusion of the chapter, “The stark racial differences in crime rates undoubtedly impact black-white relations in America. So long as they persist, young black men will make people nervous. Discussions about the problem can be useful if they are honest, which is rare.”

Chapter four, Mandating Unemployment, is a brilliant look at the issue of minimum wage in the context of racial history in America. I never knew the link between unions, racism, and minimum wage laws. This chapter is damning to one of the most successful myths the left has managed to perpetrate in this country. Survey research continues to show Americans support additional increases in the minimum wage. Minimum wage laws are incredibly harmful to the poor, and as Riley demonstrates, they are significantly harmful to black Americans. This is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book.

Chapter five, Educational Freedom, takes a look at the education system and its effects on black Americans. Riley looks at how successful choice programs (vouchers and charters) despite union opposition, are making a difference in some of the poorest communities in New York City. Riley closes this chapter with a brief look at historically black colleges and universities.

The final chapter of the book examines the left’s sacred cow, affirmative action. Not only must liberals help, they must social engineer to right all wrongs. Consistent in form, Riley equipped with research destroys the myth of affirmative action. I’ve always suspected this practice has done little to better minorities in our society, and this chapter reinforced that belief. Since 1960 the black middle class has failed to grow any more rapid than prior to 1960. In 1970, 33.5% of blacks were below the poverty line and in 1990 that number was still at 31.9%. Riley also discusses the effect of affirmative action on colleges in this chapter.

This review has gone on a bit long than I like to make them, but I loved this book and wanted you to get a feel of what was inside it. This is one of those books that make liberals incredibly angry because it presents the truth of their ugly manipulation of a special interest group. Go get a copy of his book and read it for yourself!

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Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative

hillsdaleI was doing some research based on something from a chapter in Conform, and I came across something I think more conservatives should be aware of. Hillsdale College has created the Barney Charter School Initiative.

The Barney Charter School Initiative is a project of Hillsdale College devoted to the education of young Americans. Through this initiative, the College will support the launch of K-12 charter schools. These schools will train the minds and improve the hearts of young people through a rigorous, classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.

There are nine schools that are either established or in the process of being established in six states. There is a ton of information on their website that explains what classical education is. I have just barely begun to scratch the surface of all that is there.

I’m wondering if this may be a viable alternative for conservative parents who are tired of government schools but don’t have the resources to home school or private school. The word is Hillsdale is looking to significantly scale this project up in the coming years. For those of us teachers that are getting really tired of government schools, I wonder if this may be something we may want to jump on board with.

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National Teacher Survey Demonstrates Growing Support for Education Reforms

I have mentioned previously that I am a huge fan of the Association of American Educators. I am also a dues paying member. If you are a conservative in education, I believe you should be a member of this organization even if you are forced to pay union dues. The AAE conducts an annual survey of its members, and unlike the unions, it actually listens to it’s member survey. This has been sitting in my inbox for sometime. It was originally posted on the AAE website last month.

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Alexandria, VA – Today the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national non-union educators’ organization, released its 2014 Membership Survey about high-profile education and labor policies. Survey results show progressive stances toward education and labor reform, particularly with regard to education spending, school choice, technology, safety in schools, Common Core State Standards, and collective bargaining.

With policymakers considering new ideas in education across the country, it’s critical that educators’ opinions and experiences are taken into account as these reforms are debated and implemented. As a member-driven organization, AAE brings an authentic teacher voice to the education reform dialogue, providing invaluable input from professional educators across the country.

“AAE takes policy positions directly from member feedback,” stated AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner. “The opinions expressed in this survey are those of real educators, not bureaucrats or union leaders with partisan political agendas.”

With regard to proposed ballot initiatives designed to increase education spending via tax increases, AAE members stress fiscal responsibility:

  • 63% of survey respondents do not support the failed Colorado amendment that would have increased income taxes to raise nearly $1 billion for public schools.

While the education establishment sees school choice as a threat to their unionized monopoly, AAE teachers support certain laws that advance school choice and promote options for both teachers and students:

  • 82% of members support public school open enrollment.
  • 59% of teachers agree with Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Program, allowing low-income students public funds to attend a school of their choice.
  • 72% of AAE members support Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which enable students to leave their assigned public schools, taking 90% of the state dollars with them. That money, deposited into ESAs, can then be used to access a multitude of education options that better meet their children’s needs.

As new technologies make flexibility a reality for all stakeholders, states across the country are implementing policies that offer and encourage online learning. AAE members embrace new technologies as a means to better prepare students for the 21st century:

  • 93% of AAE members incorporate technology in their daily lessons.
  • 65% of teachers would support a blended learning environment where students spend part of their day with a teacher and part of their day on a computer.

In the wake of several tragic school shootings, teachers are vocal about school safety measures:

  • While 75% of surveyed members feel safe in their school, teachers report increased safety procedures in their buildings.
  • 61% of AAE members support a proposed policy in Arkansas that would allow educators access to a locked concealed firearm after a training course.

Experts continue to debate the value of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Support for the standards has declined in 2014 with AAE members split on the initiative:

  • 51% of survey respondents have an unfavorable opinion of CCSS.
  • 30% of teachers believe the Common Core will make the U.S. more competitive on a global scale. 47% of teachers believe they would have no effect, and 22% assert that CCSS would have an adverse effect.

Collective bargaining and labor reforms are also considered by AAE member teachers:

  • 64% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.

“We are proud to represent educators who are thoughtfully considering education reforms,” stressed Beckner. “We hope these findings will be a useful tool for policymakers and administrators on all levels.

Complete results of the survey can be found at www.aaeteachers.org/natsurvey.

The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national, non-union, professional educator’s organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda. AAE members are forward-thinking professionals who are committed to student-centered reform efforts including school/teacher choice, accountability and technology. AAE has members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $15 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional development resources as well as a host of other benefits. Visit aaeteachers.org for further information.

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