opinionjournal.com/editorial … =110005365
[quote=“Rod Paige, Secretay of Education”]FOR THE RECORD
The NAACP betrays black Americans.[/b]
BY ROD PAIGE
Saturday, July 17, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
I have a message for the NAACP’s Julian Bond and Kweisi Mfume, who have accused black conservatives of being the “puppets” of white people, unable to think for ourselves: You do not own, and you are not the arbiters of, African-American authenticity.
I am a lifelong member of the NAACP. I have a great respect for the organization. Its historical leaders, all visionary thinkers, have been responsible for helping to advance the struggle of African-Americans over the past century, making our nation a more equitable and race-blind society. Sadly, the current NAACP leadership has managed to take a proud, effective organization in a totally new direction: naked partisan politics, pure and simple.
In particular, Mr. Bond and Mr. Mfume have done a great disservice to our organization, and to the founders of the civil-rights movement, with their hateful and untruthful rhetoric about Republicans and President Bush. How ironic that they would direct this vitriol at a president who has appointed more African-Americans to high-profile posts, has committed more funds to fight AIDS in Africa, has championed minority homeownership, and has supported more trade and aid for African and Caribbean nations than any other administration.
Another idea that has been opposed in knee-jerk fashion is the No Child Left Behind Act. The law, passed in 2001 and one of the president’s first priorities upon taking office, is improving the entire American school system and is giving parents whose children are trapped in underperforming schools not only hope, but options, such as free tutoring or transfer to a better public school.
Through his education policies alone, President Bush has done more for the African-American community than any previous president, including the so-called first black president, Bill Clinton. That’s a secret some black leaders may not want millions of African-American voters to know. But just ask the tens of thousands of parents who took advantage of the free choice and tutoring provisions under the first year of NCLB, the majority of whom were minorities. Poll after poll has shown that African-American parents support school choice, which is directly at odds with the NAACP’s position on the issue.
The corrosive rhetoric espoused by the NAACP may make headlines and get out the vote in some quarters, but it is counterproductive, damaging and a betrayal of the organization’s own origins. I would think our community would be better off looking toward the future, helping our children live up to their potential. The civil-rights movement has historically been multicultural, and many of its founders, including those who established the NAACP, were in fact white. I long for the day when our nation’s education policy will not be grist for the partisan mill–when we can work together, black and white, rich and poor, for the sake of our children and for their future.
Mr. Paige is secretary of education.[/quote]