PERRY/Civil rights of today

While the national presidential debate this year revolves around jobs and the economy, education reform took the stage in Tampa at the Republican National Convention in the speeches of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Rice described education reform and school choice as “the civil rights issue of our day.” She said, “But today, today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you’re going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.”

Rice called for great teachers and high academic standards and said, “We need to give parents greater choice, particularly, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights issue of our day. If we do anything less, we will condemn generations to joblessness and hopelessness and life on the government dole. If we do anything less, we will endanger our global imperatives for competitiveness. And if we do anything less, we will tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement the turn toward entitlement and grievance.”

Rice reiterated her call for education reform to the Mississippi delegation the following morning at breakfast. Rice followed former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Craig Romney, son of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker’s campaign.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also brought his call for national education reform to Mississippians last month at a program sponsored by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Bush told Mississippi legislators that Florida’s education improvements are linked to the state’s new school choice policies, and that it would work for Mississippi, too.

At the Convention, Bush reiterated those sentiments in language similar to Rice, “We say that every child in America has an equal opportunity. Tell that to a kid in whose classroom learning isn’t respected. Tell that to a parent stuck in a school where there is no leadership. Tell that to a young, talented teacher who just got laid off because she didn’t have tenure. The sad truth is that equality of opportunity doesn’t exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all. That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time. And it’s hurting all of America.”

Brian Perry
Madison County Journal
9/7/12