“To combat the loss of one’s eyesight you must significantly increase your insight.” John Henrik Clarke
In what is shaping as potentially another divisive element deep inside the education walls of higher learning George Leef, a contributor to Forbes and self-described “writer on the damage big government does, especially to education” wrote in his opinion [06/18/2014] entitled Koch Derangement Syndrome Breaks Out After $25 Million Donation To United Negro College Fund:
University of Pennsylvania professor Marybeth Gasman argued that UNCF should reject the money because it is tainted with the Koch brothers’ political advocacy, which she says works “to undermine the interests of African-Americans and the institutions that support them.” The Kochs want to shrink the federal government, but Gasman objects, saying that federal programs “built the black middle class.”
Coincidentally this very subject, the health of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), came up last week during a round of golf with a very good professor friend of mine from Adelphi University in New York. We were in agreement that the majority of these institutions are struggling. His argument that in 2014 these institutions need to remain because they are the only viable opportunity for many college hopeful young people today is a valid one.
But at what cost? Should these administrations be allowed to accept the “paper” from Koch like donors, regardless of what side their political fence swings, keeping poorly managed schools afloat while compromising on the lessons children are taught? Do these donations create a different type of elite populations? Or is the opportunity for a young persons college or university experience enough to justify accepting the money?
It’s an interesting dilemma but one which should remain solely between the giver and receiver. Others have every right to voice, however a critical decision like this should be trusted with those involved. More to the problem is the weight that lies around the neck of education in every district, in every city of every state. Why in a Nation as rich as the United States is money such a factor? Shouldn’t every child, that wants to study, have an equal opportunity and access to college or universities? No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top seems to be providing us with a universally reform front which consists of plenty promises without much substance. Unfortunately that leaves many youngsters in limbo.
Maybe initiatives like the one supported by Governor Jack Markall of Delaware [A Case Study in Lifting College Attendance-New York Times 06/10/2014] will help direct reform to a better road. Called Getting to Zero it’s program goal is to get every high school senior with a SAT score of at least 1,500 to enroll in college. The incentives include application fee waivers for low-income students and full participation by high-school guidance counselors. State officials are also encouraged to make phone calls to parents in order to navigate the necessary complex process.
In the end Dr. Michael L. Lomax, United Negro College Fund President and CEO, will have to answer for this and every other piece of funding his organization receives. My only wish is that the outcome will be beneficial to every young, gifted mind inside our Nation.
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”