Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “Public Schools Failing Minorities.”

Yesterday, I wrote an article detailing the terrible state of public education in poor ghettos. Everybody knows how bad they are. But most people avoid talking about it. Liberals especially do not like talking about it, because everyone knows that the Department of Education is dominated by liberals. The piss-poor state of public education in ghettos is an extremely visible sign of liberal failure. So, they do their best to ignore the problem.

The problem is not lost on everyone. In a timely article appearing yesterday, former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had this to say on the subject:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the famous basketball player and best-selling author, says public schools have failed minority students, leading to further segregation.

“I don’t think the soft expectations have benefitted minority communities very well, I think we still suffer from that,” Abdul-Jabbar said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “A lot of people seem to be able to accept it and understand it because they know how terrible our public school systems are, and how they have failed, in many cases, to educate the students in their districts. And I think that that failure has led to a lot of these problems and has given rise to a segregation of schooling, where you have private schools that are for wealthy white people and the public schools that have very poor teachers and very bad facilities that’s for everyone else. We suffer because of that.”

He says that the public school system has failed poor black communities. I agree with this. Inner-city high schools are now closer to juvenile detention centers than institutes of learning. Basically, they are city-run operations designed to keep troublemakers off the streets during business hours. There certainly is not much in the way of scholarship going on at these places, as test scores have shown.

He discusses the flight of white folks from public schools that begin picking up poor black students from the ghetto. This is also true. White flight is a visible phenomenon. All white folks with money do it; none talk about it. It is spoken of critically by white liberals, but the funny thing is this: white liberals are no less prone to white flight than anyone else. Consider this story out of wildly liberal New York, which is also considered to have the most segregated school system in America:

It is as though the neighborhood were divided by an invisible wall.

On one side, children attend a public elementary school where test scores are high, the students are mostly white and well off, and the parent-teacher organization can raise $800,000 a year to pay for things like a resident chef.

On the other side, children attend a public elementary school where 87 percent of the students are black or Hispanic and 84 percent receive some form of public assistance. Just over a tenth pass the state reading and math tests. There is no library or art teacher.

The first school, Public School 199 on West 70th Street in Manhattan, is also seriously overcrowded, with a waiting list of nearly 100 children for kindergarten in recent years. The second, P.S. 191 on West 61st, has many empty seats.

Now, to address the overcrowding at P.S. 199, the New York City Education Department is proposing to redraw the line, transferring to P.S. 191 several blocks of apartment buildings where children are currently zoned for P.S. 199. The change would be controversial under any circumstances, but it is particularly so because the state this year put P.S. 191 on its list of “persistently dangerous” schools.

To summarize: this is a tale of two schools. One school is lily-white and successful, with active PTA and fundraising efforts. The other school is mostly black and partially Latino, with no PTA or fundraising, and officially deemed “persistently dangerous”, which is never a good sign. The white school is crowded; white parents have their kids on waiting lists to get into kindergarten. Meanwhile, the ghetto school is wide open for business. To alleviate this, the local Education Department wants to force the white parents to bus their kids to the ghetto school.

Surely, the benevolent influence of liberalism across New York has transformed the hearts and minds of these people. Let’s take a look:

At heated public hearings, some parents on the Upper West Side have said they will move if they are rezoned to what they see as a failing school. Many have expressed resentment that some new buildings under construction would be zoned for P.S. 199 while their own buildings would be cast out. At a public meeting this month, when P.S. 191’s principal tried to speak about how she was addressing her school’s problems, she was shouted at.

The passion is not limited to people whose children attend city schools.

“I’m not a racist — it’s not that I don’t want my children to go to school in a mixed school,” Jared Larsen, who lives in a building that would be rezoned and has two children currently attending private school, said at a recent hearing. “But at the same time we want the best for our children. We want the best for our property value.”

There are few things more enjoyable to me than watching liberals become victims of their own policy in action. When it happens, I like to bask in the moment.

This is a situation that demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of American liberalism. They never learn. This particular social engineering experiment was already tried by the Education Department in Boston over 40 years ago. It was an absolute flop. The white families who were going to have their children redistricted into poor black schools as part of a social engineering scheme simply fled the city. The whole thing was a major embarrassment to the East Coast liberal establishment, which quickly ditched the idea. When liberals resurrect a 4-decade old failed experiment, you know that they’re really out of ideas.

Thankfully, there have been successes in inner-city schooling as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar points out, which I also pointed out yesterday:

“Charter schools are an attempt to stem the flow of that dynamic and I hope that they get something done,” Abdul-Jabbar said. He noted that the elementary school he attended in Manhattan, formerly a Catholic school, is now a charter school. “That seems to be the trend,” he added.

He is refusing to say what white liberals also refuse to say: Charter schools are successful because they can boot out the bad apples. To the extent that charter schools can boot the bad apples and keep the good apples, they really are getting something done. These are schools that are genuinely run for the sake of the children.

The article ends with this, from an earlier book by Abdul-Jabbar:

Cowen quoted a passage from one of Abdul-Jabbar’s books where he says Republicans are indifferent to hardships, but he agrees that handouts don’t solve anything. Abdul-Jabbar said he still believes that, “But [Republicans] have to be open to the fact that the solutions that they have put forward haven’t worked. I am still anxious to hear from some of the conservatives what the conservative solution is for underemployment and the failure of our education system. We need a solution for that. Why haven’t the conservatives come forward with solutions? They seem to think that they have the answers.” He suggested some conservatives may be indifferent to poor people of color.

He is correct that the solutions put forth by Republicans have not worked. This is because Republicans in a position to do anything have only put forth liberal solutions. The worst example of this was George W. Bush and “No Child Left Behind”, which should’ve been titled “More Children Left Behind”. It was a total flop.

He asks for the conservative solution. The problem is this: mainstream conservatives are no less dedicated to the same educational policies as liberals. At bottom line, both liberals and conservatives believe they have a right to the government-funded babysitting known as public school paid for by other people’s money. The public schools are one of the most untouchable institutions in America. Their support is bipartisan, which perfectly demonstrates this rule of Democracy: “Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.”

There is a two-pronged approach to take in this situation. First of all, people must recognize that the root issues at play are fatherlessness, a culture of permanent failure, and perverse government incentives. The only thing the government can do to mitigate these problems is to reduce and remove welfare programs that sustain piss-poor cultural behaviors like single parentage. But they cannot do anything else. The other problems require a spiritual and ethical revival. It is here that inner-city churches and charitable organizations can do the most good. Black adults who grew up in the ghetto and found success can have a positive impact by connecting with and providing mentorship to kids in the ghettos.

The second prong is this: educational alternatives. For example: Marva Collins was an educator within Chicago Public schools from the 50s to the 70s. She had a passion for excellence and education. She eventually became so fed up with the terrible state of public education in Chicago that she quit and started her own low-cost private school specifically catering to kids in the ghetto considered the most unteachable. The story of her venture is incredible; she produced a lot of success. Of course, like charter schools, she had her limits. Kids who absolutely refused to buckle down and learn were booted. She was compassionate and gave every kid a chance, but she didn’t hesitate to boot the bad apples that refused to change. She cared too much for the quality of her education to let that happen.

Charter schools have been highly successful. Currently, there are too few of them to make enough of an impact. But I support charter schooling over traditional open-admission schooling.

In addition, online schooling is becoming more available and refined every year. The most well-known of these is the Khan Academy, which currently services over 26 million students worldwide. It does hold to Common Core standards, but the curriculum is not overtly liberal. It focuses on math, science, and computer skills, which many students are woefully unequipped in. The curriculum is so highly thought of that it has gotten Gates Foundation attention, which has bankrolled its expansion. I think online schooling presents an excellent option for the inner-city families of the future who do not want to send their kids into rotten public schools next to bad apples for a 3rd-rate education.

In an interesting fusion, some charter schools have adopted a curriculum based on the use of Khan Academy materials, which keeps costs down and allows them to take on more students. This is a marvelous idea. I would like to see it spread.


Liberals in the educational establishment are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. They can try to shove liberal solutions on people, which will produce embarrassing results like white flight in even liberal neighborhoods. They can backpedal on liberal policies, but it is even more embarrassing if this ends up making things better. So, the best solution for them is to try muddling on with the status quo and blame the present issues on white racism. This is tantamount to ignoring the problem of terrible inner-city schools, which of course solves nothing. This is exactly what has happened: nothing has been solved.

Solutions for inner-city families are presenting themselves. Charter schools are becoming more popular. Online schooling is becoming more acceptable and comprehensive. Families who want the best for their children can take advantage of these.

But it is imperative they avoid the terrible inner-city public schools at all costs. Nobody likes discussing it, but everybody knows it: these schools are more like juvenile-detention prep facilities than educational institutions.


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