Race baiting by several Telegraph writers seems to be on the rise. Faulty arguments and misleading information are being propounded about alleged discrimination and segregation in the Bibb County School System to sow dissension in the Middle Georgia community. This fabricated but politically motivated animosity instead of bringing the community together, is causing dissension, and is hurting most the very “minority and disadvantaged” children they claim to speak for.
The title of the recent article by Leroy Mack, “Bibb’s schools: Separate but not equal,” is needlessly inflammatory, and the narrative that follows is more of the same and contains misleading information to force through a point of view that is more tendentious than constructive.
His essay is based in part on a previous article in The Telegraph that the author did not cite and which he chose to cherry pick in his statistics. The data Mack chose to cite for the 2016 Bibb County public school system, contrary to what he wrote, is not “in stark contrast to 20 years ago.” In fact, the difference in black and white student enrollment in those 20 years is relatively small and some of it can be accounted, as the initial article stated, because of the changes in the Macon-Bibb population at large. While the black population is increasing, the white population has been decreasing over the years. The facts are that demographics in the United States are changing and the white population is decreasing while minority populations are increasing, and the public school systems nationally are reflecting that reality.
Changes in enrollment are also taking place because more families are exercising their free choice of either homeschooling or placing their children in private schools in search of better and safer education for their children. Some private schools are even enticing poor students and minority enrollment by participating voluntarily in the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program. But there is a caveat for receiving such scholarships; the children must be able to meet scholastic requirements at the private school they wish to attend. Last year (2016) 44 percent of Goal scholarship awards were given to minority recipients and 50 percent were awarded to children whose families had an adjusted gross income of less than $24,000.
The truth is, black and Hispanic families have the same free choice to educate their children at homeschooling or sending their children to the different options of public schools, including charter schools and cyber academies, or private school. Democrats and other progressive politicians seem to forget that our nation was founded on liberty and freedom of choice, not authoritarian government compulsion.
Discrimination and legal segregation as took place in the wicked system of the 1950s and early 60s, have been righteously dumped in the dustbin of history. If Mack could prove that the Academy for Classical Education has a discriminatory policy based on race or ethnicity, then I would agree that some punitive action should be taken. Orchestrated school segregation based on race or ethnicity is not only immoral but also illegal. We would have expected Mack to provide a modicum of evidence for such orchestrated segregation, which he characterizes as “separate but not equal,” but he provided not an iota of evidence, only the venting of anger and hostility to anyone who listens.
If school segregation in Bibb County is on the rise, it is by choice and perhaps inattention of some parents who haven’t done their homework in finding for their children the best schools available to them. Mack’s article implies there is some conspiracy by parents or the school system to segregate the children by racial or ethnic discrimination. That insinuation is wrong, misplaced, and irresponsible.
Continually telling black children they cannot succeed because the system is stacked against them does not benefit them but hinders them in their ability to achieve a good education and reach their full human potential. Is Mack implying that the government needs to exercise compulsion to achieve equal racial enrollment in all public schools? He will probably deny his compulsory intention, even though in reality, that is where he is heading in a disingenuous and roundabout way. Or is Mack simply upset because a family member was not able to attain admission to ACE, not because of racial, ethnic discrimination or financial need, but because of the scholastic rules or the lottery aspect of that system?
Mack goes on to further lambast the system: “Charter schools like ACE are ‘white flight academies’ because they are simply ways for middle class populations to create a publicly financed private school, which I believe is morally and ethically problematic.” I disagree. Middle class citizens are part of the population, and they are paying the lion’s share of property and income taxes. They deserve to receive some of their money back in educating their children via vouchers or charter schools, like anybody else.
Mack seems to be using false logic when he demands that the “ACE come up with a weighted system that allows poor and disadvantaged minority students better access to ACE.” What is impeding parents of those children from entering ACE within the objective rules already in place? Does he want to make it obligatory for some of those children to be forced into certain schools by government fiat or quotas, regardless of scholastic achievement or lottery regulations?
Until parents of students, minority or otherwise, begin to take personal responsibility for their children’s education, this segregation based on freedom of choice may continue. Creating an adversarial environment for our children via race baiting is counterproductive, irresponsible and detrimental to “the poor and disadvantaged minority children” that Mack thinks he is championing. Parents need to do their part to help teachers, as well as to pick the schools that best fit their children.
All that Mack and some of the other race-baiting writers have been doing is fostering racial animosity and attempting to create racial strife — only because white, black and Hispanic families are voluntarily exercising their right to place their children in the public school systems of their choice. Some parents have been relinquishing that responsibility totally to the government. Others have been inattentive to their children’s mediocre scholastic performance so that their children have no chance of participating, for example, in the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program. Therefore, a better topic for Mack’s essay would have been providing information to parents of the “poor, disadvantage and minority” students about how they can best pursue a better education for their children by actively researching and also paying attention to what is available in terms of charter schools, such as ACE, or even better in my opinion, in Georgia’s cyber academies.
Besides charter schools like ACE, there is another charter school option for families in Georgia. I refer to cyber academies, such as Georgia Virtual School, Georgia Cyber Academy, and Georgia Connection Academy. We have personally found Georgia Cyber Academy to be an excellent school that helped propel our last child to do successful academic work in college.
Parents who are very much interested in the education of their children and are willing to go the extra mile should look into these cyber academies. They are considered part of the public school system as a tuition-free, online alternative to homeschooling. They are more than deserving of the amount of their share of public education funds. They are open to all Georgia children who apply.
The student works at home during the day, attending classes online, completing assignments, and studying. All books and supplies, including a computer, if the child does not own one or cannot afford one, are provided for them. School materials, textbooks, and computers are mailed to the student’s home address via UPS, and return packaging and a postage paid return receipt is enclosed for use at the end of the school year. The only item a parent must provide is reliable internet connection.
Since so many people are streaming movies online, they already have a reliable internet connection and can afford this minimal expense. Let’s be constructive, not needlessly disruptive and divisive; our children are too important to be used in personal or political agendas.
Miguel A. Faria, M.D. is a retired clinical professor of neurosurgery and long time medical editor. He is the author of “Vandals at the Gates of Medicine” (1995); “Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine” (1997); and “Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise” (2002). His website is www.haciendapub.com.