Kudos to Marcus Brandon, who has taken enormous flak for his courageous stand:
Marcus Brandon's resume starts off like a progressive's dream. National finance director, Dennis Kucinich for president. Staffer, Progressive Majority. Deputy director, Equality Virginia. But once it rolls into Brandon's education accomplishments, some fellow progressives get whiplash. During two terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Brandon was a leading forced behind bills that created vouchers for disabled and low-income students, and removed the state's cap on charter schools.
Inconsistency? Not for Brandon, a rising political star whose family's civil rights bona fides are unquestioned.
"I tell people that my views on education are the most progressive stance that I have," Brandon told redefinED. "Progressives have to take a real hard look at the way they view education because I've always been brought up, in the civil rights movement and all of that, (to) fight for equal opportunity and equal access for everybody."
Brandon, who now directs the Carolina CAN education advocacy group, isn't an anomaly. A growing list of influential liberals, progressives and Democrats are increasingly supportive of school choice. In the process, they're wrenching the left back into alignment with its own forgotten history – a history that is especially rich in the African-American experience. Milton Friedman would merit a few paragraphs in a book on this subject. But there'd be whole chapters devoted to the educational endeavors of freed slaves and black churches. To Mississippi freedom schools and Marva Collins. To the connections between Brown v. Board of Education and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.
"School choice is not new for African-Americans," said Brandon, whose family played a role in the lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., which toppled segregationist dominos nationwide. "It is very much a part of our history for the community to be involved with the school. It's very much a part of our history for the churches to start their own school. That is just as deep in our history as any part of our history. … It mind-boggles me that the people who are fighting this will forget that."
From sit-ins to school choice
This is the third post in our series on the Voucher Left.