Pennsylvania’s Senate Education Committee chairman is being rightly criticized for saying minority students from “inner-city” public schools would do better in vocational careers than in college.
Republican Sen. John Eichelberger said during a town hall that minority students are being pushed toward college and are dropping out. He says they’d succeed in a less-intensive track.
Eichelberger is right when he says that urban school systems are failing many minority school students. But the answer is not to discourage Black and Latino students from aspiring to college but to improve the schools they attend.
Democratic Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said Eichelberger should be removed from the committee chairmanship.
Hughes said in an interview he “was repulsed by [Eichelberger’s] statement.”
“Let’s be clear, this issue about the stereotyping of Black and Brown children needing less-intensive tracks to succeed has been around for generations, maybe even centuries,” he said.
Eichelberger posted a statement about the controversy on his senate page.
“Well, I have finally been the victim of a fake news story,” the statement reads. “The Carlisle Sentinel did a convoluted and incomplete story about my town hall meeting last week, the Democrats decided to spin it even further, and other liberal media outlets followed along.”
The Republican lawmaker, who represents Blair and parts of Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon counties, continued. Hughes “is calling me a racist because I spoke about the failing schools in Philadelphia, located in minority neighborhoods, not preparing their students for college. He’s trying to say that since the kids are Black, that I think they’re not capable of learning. Wrong. I see the potential of these children and want to see them succeed.”
Eichelberger made sweeping and insulting generalizations.
Hughes is right in pointing out that the problem is many minority students are victims of Pennsylvania’s unfair school-funding system and some drop out of college because they can’t afford it.
Despite the problem of coming from poorly funded schools, many African-American and Latino students overcome the obstacles and do well and finish college.
The fact is that many American children, of all races, are not being properly prepared for the vocational careers that Eichelberger says would be better suited for “inner-city kids.”
When President Donald Trump brought two dozen manufacturing CEOs to the White House last week and asked them to commit to restoring factory jobs lost to foreign completion, the CEOs pushed back and said jobs exist but skills don’t.
The CEOs suggested that there are still plenty of openings for U.S. factory jobs but too few qualified people to fill them. “They urged the White House to support vocational training for the high-tech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require — a topic Trump has seldom addressed,” reports the Associated Press.
“One executive said in discussions with White House officials that his company has 50 participants in a factory apprenticeship program, but could take 500 if enough were qualified. But he said that in his experience, most students coming out of high school lack the math and English skills to absorb technical manuals,” AP reports.
It should be noted that CEOs were not talking about “inner-city kids” lacking the skills required but were making a damning indictment on America’s educational system.