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Published on December 27th, 2012


Brandon Brice: The Politics of Educating Urban America

It’s always amazed me, as a fiscal conservative, how education reform legislation was championed as being the Democrats’ key policy issue in the United States. Let’s observe the Democratic’ strategy for improving urban education in the United States. First the strategy is to dump billions of American tax payer dollars down the havens of failing school districts in the name of saving our children, which has consistently failed for more than 30 years, since the late seventies.

Next, Democratic legislation towards education reform policy is hijacked politically because of the dependence on financial support coming from State specific education teachers unions. At the recent Democratic convention in Charlotte, it was reported that there were more education and teachers union delegates than those delegates combined from Texas and California. Sadly, addressing the education issue in our nations urban failing school districts has become one of politics not possibility. 

Frequently, liberal policymakers, Mayors, Legislators and even Governors for the last thirty years are finding themselves tied to supporting failed education policies, because of the lack of the heavy dependency of financial contributions often given by state run education associations. Any risks from these elected officials towards allowing parental choice, getting rid of incompetent educators, or changing the curriculum for more enhanced competition, is viewed as a threat to many local teachers union. As a defense, education unions advocate for the necessity to hire more teachers’ aides, enhancing the salaries for all teachers, or protecting teachers despite past negative performances. Simply put, education success is not and has never been determined by giving more money to a problem that refuses to fix itself. 

In heavy union towns like Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Newark, the political theater has worked for most Democratic officials and power brokers because few Republicans are able to successfully explain to the general public, that means the urban communities, that throwing their hard earned tax payer dollars at schools that are not achieving and will never achieve is a waste of a return on their tax investment, especially in Black and Brown districts. The liberal agenda has consistently beat the drum of advocating for more state and federal dollars, but often have neglected to show the large salaries, exotic conferences and the elaborate school facilities without the bare essentials for educating a child.

In many States, Governors have addressed the option and opportunity for school vouchers, which directly combats teachers unions, by re-establishing urban competition from private schools.  that don’t have all this baggage to hold them back. No wonder the NEA is going all out to stop parents from having vouchers that would give them a choice of where to send their children to school.

Sadly, teachers unions have declared war against the use of vouchers, even in failed school districts, due to the increased competition that addresses educational curriculum failure, the lack of preparedness by the students and the prospective amount of revenue lost competitive schools districts. Thus, education is our civil rights issue in the 21st century.


Brandon Brice is a graduate of Howard University, Rutgers University’s Graduate Eagleton Institute of Politics and is currently pursuing his studies at Columbia University.

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