Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Says 'Racist Prep Schools,' Not Teachers' Unions, Hold Back Blacks

Tim Scott (R-South Carolina)

Earlier this week, Congressmen Allen West and Tim Scott, former congressman J. C. Watts, congressional hopeful Star Parker, and other prominent black conservatives held the Black Conservative Forum to discuss blacks and the Republican Party. The forum, broadcast by C-Span, was well attended, though neither Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee bothered to show up. Rep. Jim Jordan of the Republican Study Committee showed up with only a few minutes to spare and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, showed up late.

It’s a shame that the talent scouts in our party didn’t bother showing up. Had they, they would have noticed this exchange in which Tim Scott demolished the latest lie about school choice: that racist prep schools, are not intransigent prep schools, are the impediment to educational progress in the black community.


“There are still those schools that would deny access to African-Americans. They are fewer than when I was there, but they are still there.”

Scott quickly showed the silliness of Cleaver’s question by pointing out that waiting for mythical racist schools to become non-racist would mean waiting forever because they don’t exist.

I spent the better part of the morning going through Lexis-Nexis but I cannot find a single instance of a black student denied entrance anywhere for racial reasons. In fact, at many prep schools, liberal administrators bend over backwards to admit lesser qualified, poorer, (and often blacker) students. They even sponsor minority supporting programs and offer to fly them to campus for free.

Barack Obama knows this well. He attended the very exclusive, Punahou starting in 5th grade, thanks largely to the connections of his grandfather (thought his blackness certainly didn’t hurt.) Both of his daughters attend Sidwell & Friends, an elite, exclusive prep school in Washington D.C. Indeed, his daughters know well the price that his teachers’ union allies exert after several students at their school were denied scholarships when the D.C. voucher program was gutted by the Democrats once they took control in Washington, as tragically recounted in William McGurn’s March 3 2009 Wall Street Journal column.

The funding has since been restored for those kind of programs, but the ease with which the education of poor and largely black students can become a political football is indicative of the brokenness of the politicization of education.

It ought not be politicized, but if, as the left has told us, over and over again, that the personal is political, than surely the very personal decision of what you offer your children–and what you deny the children of others in your public duties–is fair game.

We’ve actually already tried Emanuel Cleaver’s “solution” of spending more money to solve the educational gap. In 1987 Judge Russell Clark mandated tax increases to help pay for improvements to the Kansas City, Missouri, School District in an effort to entice white students and quality teachers back to the inner-city, but even after they increased teacher salaries and spent more than $2 billion, the district continued to have abysmal test scores. This tragically stupid public policy is profiled in elaborate detail in Joshua M. Dunn’s Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins (2008).

But Cleaver actually suggested that all of the money spent proved the racism of Kansas City white suburbanites, and not the failure of inner-city school districts at educating children.