Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Modern Day Plantations

By Captain Opinion

JANUARY 10, 2000:  Imagine the horror of it. You're a black man or woman or boy or girl in the mid-1800s in the South on a plantation and you are a slave. You hunger and thirst for freedom. You dream of it. You pray for it. You cry for it. You implore the Almighty for it.

And sometimes, tired of being beaten and worked to exhaustion, you chase freedom. You escape the plantation. But The Man sends out the dogs and the men with guns and the sheriff to hunt you down. And they drag you back in chains because you can never leave the plantation.

You dream of being able to read and write and to go to school and to become educated because you know that with those skills you are equal to anyone and that you could run a business, open a store, write a book, get a good job and provide for your family. But be caught with a book in your shack, be caught trying to learn to read, and you'll be whipped. You must remain ignorant. You cannot leave the plantation; not physically, not mentally.

You would think that more than 100 years later we would have progressed in this country to beyond that point of hell on earth where human beings are told they cannot and never will leave the plantation. But we haven't. Today there are new masters who are telling blacks, other minorities and poor whites that they cannot leave the plantation. There are new masters who are telling poor kids that they will not have a great education. There are new masters who are doing everything they can to keep poor kids in educational depravity and under their thumbs.

Those new masters don't use whips and chains to keep those yearning to be free from realizing their dreams. They use the courts and politicians to perpetuate a form of slavery. The new masters are teachers' unions, the educational establishment and their politician friends who are denouncing school vouchers in the most fanatic of ways. These people do not want minorities or poor folk to leave the plantation that the public schools in this nation have become.

These modern-day slave keepers recently got a boost from a federal court judge in Cleveland who struck down that city's voucher program. Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. decided that giving parents and kids up to $2,500 a year to spend for tuition at the school of their choice amounted to government supported religious indoctrination.

Keep in mind that most of the 3,700 kids who are in Cleveland's voucher program are black and poor. And remember that in Cleveland and other big cities the public schools have gone to hell. They are gang infested pits where kids are taunted, threatened, intimidated and beaten. They are places where getting an education, let alone a good one, is almost impossible. They are places that no one should have to send their kids to.

In many communities the public schools have failed for more than 40 years to give kids the one thing that will put them on the path to self-reliance, success, and, yes, freedom: a good education.

So poor families in Cleveland and across this nation have chased after educational freedom for their kids by applying for vouchers and sending their kids to private schools where they can get a good education without fear of being harassed by gangbangers. They are grateful to be off the plantation.

And what have the professional educators and their politician friends done to those kids and their families who have escaped the plantation of educational depravity that the public schools have become? They have sent the lawyers after them and they convinced Judge Solomon, much like they did the sheriffs of the Old South, to chain the kids up and send them back to the plantation.

Black folk and poor folk and Hispanic and white must understand that the white, elitist educational establishment does not want them to leave the plantation. They want to keep them in educational shackles.

Albuquerque Teachers Union President Ellen Bernstein said recently that vouchers will destroy the nation's public schools. What a joke. The public schools have already been destroyed. It is Bernstein and her educational establishment colleagues who have destroyed them. And now they are refusing to let minorities and the poor leave the educational wastelands they have created.

But Bernstein and the others need to understand that we shall overcome, that no matter how many lawyers and judges they send after us we shall shatter your shackles and leave them on the ground to rust.

We will leave your plantations.

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