With overheated fanfare, Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk announced the start of another attempt to reduce racial education achievement gaps, telling the Lexington Herald Leader "today we stand before our community to say we will no longer allow a child's demography to determine his destiny."
Caulk emphasized starting a volunteer reading program for elementary students, tutoring and leadership training in middle schools and drop-out prevention and college/career readiness in high schools. No one should be surprised to see the $600,000 won't last long funding these not-so-revolutionary ideas.
Twenty four years ago, when I was starting my career in Atlanta, I was also volunteering with ninth grade students in two area high schools. One day, I asked each group separately how many of them expected to one day play professional sports. In the poor, black, inner city group, about half the boys raised their hands. In the middle class, suburban, all-white-except-one-kid group, every hand pointed at one black kid sitting quietly in his desk. His hand was not raised, but a few years later he played some minor league baseball before starting a ten year career in the NFL. He was not a star and you wouldn't likely recognize his name, but he made it. None of the others did.
I appreciate any emphasis on lifting up young people, particularly any from disadvantaged circumstances, but participants in this "Boys of Color" scheme will become pawns in a political game to roll a $600,000 one time grant into a permanent spending spree for services of which most should have already been provided.
Mr. Caulk calls the $600,000 grant a "game changer," but he needs to demonstrate quickly that he isn't just playing the same old game. That won't happen. Education is a real pathway to success, but waiting around for government to give it to you is a sucker's game. If you want to help a young black child to succeed, teach him this: