A Minnesota school choice movement founded in the black community aims to challenge the “woke” culture narrative that America is a systemically racist nation “structured to undermine the lives of black Americans.”
TakeCharge Minnesota says its objective is “to inspire and educate the black community and other minority groups in the Twin Cities to take charge of their own lives, the lives of the families and communities, as citizens fully granted to them in the Constitution.”
The group asserts:
We acknowledge that racist people exist in the country, but explicitly reject the notion that the United States of America is a racist country. This is a subtle, but significant difference!
We also denounce the idea that the country is guilty of systemic racism, white privilege and abhor the concept of identity politics and the promotion of victimhood in minority communities.
TakeCharge is a new organization run by Kendall Qualls, a former U.S. army officer and high-ranking executive of Fortune 100 healthcare companies.
In November, Qualls, a Republican, was defeated in his congressional bid to unseat incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s 3rd District.
Two months later, on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, however, he founded TakeCharge Minnesota.
“It’s insulting to hear that Black people can’t get ahead because of systemic racism,” Qualls told the Minnesota Reformer in a Q&A interview in March.
The organization states it aims to build a coalition of supporters in communities and in academic and business sectors “to ignite a transformation within the Black community of the Twin Cities by embracing the core principles of America – not rejecting them.”
“These principles are embedded in the belief of hard work, education, faith, family, and free enterprise in the personal pursuit of dreams that can be realized by anyone regardless of race or social standing,” TakeCharge states.
On its website, TakeCharge lists its core principles:
- The promise of America is open and available to all individuals regardless of skin color or station in life.
- The private sector and free enterprise are the fastest and most financially rewarding routes to a better life for the Black community.
- A quality education is the gateway to prosperity.
- Restoring the two-parent Black family should be a priority both locally and nationally.
- The first duty of government is to insure public safety of its citizens.
Powerline drew attention to the group’s Mother’s Day ad that appeared Sunday in the Star Tribune.
“For many of you it is a Happy Mother’s Day [sic],” the ad’s text begins, and continues:
[B]ut for us, it is not – because our children are being held in bondage. It is the bondage in Minneapolis Public Schools that, for five consecutive years, rank at the bottom of the country in test scores and graduation rates for students of color. Black children from Mississippi rank higher than Minnesota.
We want a Mother’s Day gift of freedom – freedom of choice. Freedom as mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts to choose the right school for the children in our families. Help us start a new life for them by supporting school choice.
The ad cites the work of Catrin Wigfall, a former teacher and current policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment, who authored “Allergic to Accountability,” a recently released report that asserts Minnesota’s public schools “have little to show for decades of increased spending.”
In the executive summary of the report, Wigfall states that while Minnesota’s education system is often ranked near the top of state standings, the ranking is deceptive:
[H]idden beneath our seemingly high rankings are educational disparities and shortcomings that have not disappeared despite decades of increased spending. Billions of dollars—and 41 percent of the state’s budget—continue to get dedicated to education funding; unfortunately, Minnesota taxpayers have little to show for their investment.
Minnesota students’ test scores in reading and mathematics “are stagnant or in decline, and an achievement gap between students of color and their white peers and students from low-income families and their wealthier peers persists,” Wigfall explains.
She adds that federal education spending proponents and teachers’ unions continue to demand even more education funding, despite the stark achievement gap.
“But data show that there is no direct correlation between increased spending and improved academic outcomes,” Wigfall continues. “And inadequate school spending is not among the causes of achievement gaps by race, class, and zip code.”
When we divert public funds to private schools, we undermine the entire public education system. We've got to prioritize investing in our public schools, so every kid in America gets a fair shot. That's why I oppose vouchers. #Espinoza
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 23, 2020
TakeCharge says it chooses to empower black Americans to reject dependency on government and embrace the American dream instead.
“TakeCharge Minnesota strives to unite Americans regardless of background toward a shared history and common set of beliefs,” the group asserts. “We celebrate the successes of all who have achieved the American dream while encouraging people still working to achieve it.”
Recent polls show school choice is very popular among black families and Democrats.
A national poll commissioned by the American Federation for Children and published in January 2019, found 67 percent of voters support school choice, including 73 percent of Latinos, 67 percent of blacks, and 68 percent of whites.
Another poll released in August 2019 by Education Next found black Democrats approve of targeted vouchers, universal vouchers, and charter schools at 70 percent, 64 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, and Hispanic Democrats approve at 67 percent, 60 percent, and 47 percent.
A third poll commissioned by school choice proponents Democrats for Education Reform, found 81 percent of Democrat primary voters, including 89 percent of black Democrat primary voters, support a proposal to “expand access to more choices and options within the public-school system,” including charter schools, which are funded with taxpayer dollars but operated by private boards.
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