People are leaving t…
People are leaving the public schools in droves. Here’s one example.

Early on weekday mornings, as Lesley-Anne Jones implores her three sons to button their shirts and knot their ties and tie their dress shoes, they ask why they can’t attend her school.

If Ms. Jones wanted to be factual about it, she could say that the family lives just outside the boundary for Public School 158 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, where she teaches fifth grade. Instead, she tells them the deeper truth. “I’m your mother, and I know what’s good for you,” she explains. “And the public school won’t be.”

Then she drives the children to a nearby private school, the Trey Whitfield School. Every month, she and her husband send the school a check for $900, the equivalent of almost two weeks’ take-home pay from her job. They make the sacrifice because Trey Whitfield offers their children a demonstrably safer and better education than what is available at either P.S. 158 or their local school, Public School 149.

Oh, and this isn’t some manner of “white-flight”.

There is nothing effete about the private education at the Whitfield School. Its campus consists of three cinder-block barracks tucked behind a Baptist church. The curriculum eschews the fashionable pedagogies of whole language and constructivist math. From pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, every pupil wears a uniform. And not a single child in a student body of 470 is white.

In fact, this trend among non-whites isn’t even being noticed by (or apparently cared about by) the media and organizations that allegedly care about education.

When white families pull their children out of big-city public schools, everybody pays attention and debates whether the cause is educational failure, racial bias or some other factor. When African-American parents do the same thing, hardly anyone seems to care or comment, as if blacks are just supposed to accept whatever the neighborhood school dishes up – good, mediocre or abysmal.

To put the myopia in statistical terms, the database LexisNexis finds more than 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles using the phrases “white flight” and “public schools.” With the term “black flight” substituted, the number of citations plummets to fewer than 100. Not even an organization devoted to helping African-American parents with school choice, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, based in Washington, D.C., has firm statistics on the black migration out of public schools.

But the numbers are out there, for those who do care.

Still, some indications of the scope of that migration exist. Black enrollment in Catholic schools stands at about 200,000 students nationally, and minority enrollment has risen from one-tenth in 1970 to more than one-quarter in 2004, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

Some 400 historically black independent schools operate around the country, serving 52,000 pupils, the educator Gail Foster reported in 2000 in the anthology “City Schools” (Johns Hopkins University Press). Voucher programs in Florida, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., affect 33,000 pupils, the overwhelming number of them minorities.

How in the world can the Black Alliance for Education Options not care about options other than the public schools? Are they considering bussing to other public schools the only “option”? And how can the media possibly ignore this? Do they really care about what they say they care about, or is it all a smokescreen to sell more papers/airtime?

I think actions speak quite loud enough to figure that out.

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