Thursday, January 15, 2015

MLK III: Education 'must be born anew'

Martin Luther King III
My friend Jabar Shumate, a former Democratic state senator from Tulsa, likes to say that ensuring a quality education for all children is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. I believe he's right, and it's a point I stressed in 2009 when I served on the Oklahoma State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

"It is no secret that public education in this country is in trouble," civil-rights activist Martin Luther King III once told me in a written interview. "For poor children and children of color the problem of equal access to quality education is magnified. ... America's educational systems are wholly lacking in preparing our youth for the 21st century, and accordingly, must be born anew."

Mr. King, whose father's birth we celebrate next week, supports tax credits for donations to K-12 scholarship organizations because he believes we must "increase equal access to private education." (Happily, Mr. Shumate and I are on the board of a philanthropic organization that does just that.)

"Education is the key to freedom and opportunity," Mr. King said. "We basically have one supplier, the public education system, and it has become a huge bureaucracy. This bureaucracy has to be challenged. Fairness demands that every child, not just the rich, has access to an education that will help them achieve their dreams."

Oklahoma State Advisory Committee of the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2009

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