Bush Endorses Civil-Rights Revisions To Permit Academies for Black Males

By Julie A. Miller — September 18, 1991 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Julie A. Miller

When asked about such schools in a White House session with education reporters, Mr. Bush expressed support for “as much innovation as possible” in education.

A federal judge last month issued a preliminary injunction barring the Detroit Board of Education from admitting only boys to three academies offering an African-centered curriculum and other special programs that school officials said would address the problems of young inner-city males. (‘See Education Week, Sept. 4, 19913

“As I understand that one, they were treating with kids who had had backgrounds that were plagued with violence or whatever,” Mr. Bush said of the Detroit academies.

“If our experience shows us that we need to get modifications [of the law] to accommodate academies of that nature, we ought to do it,” the President continued, ‘because I do believe that something of that nature has some merit.”

In an earlier conversation, Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander had told reporters that he believed that separate school programs for minority boys violate the “important principle” of desegregated schools.

President Bush said that Mr. Alexander had “addressed himself to an entirely different question” and that “we’re together on this.”

“I addressed the question of all-black schools, not all-male schools,” Secretary Alexander said at last week’s session.

Officials of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund decried Mr. Bush’s endorsement of such all-male academies, which he likened to groups such as the Boy Scouts.

Mr. Bush’s stance “essentially strengthens our sense that the President is willing to trade off the equity goals under the guise of promoting choice,” said Walteen Grady Truely, director of the NOW Legal Defense Fund’s project on equal-education rights.

Philip Gutis, a spokesman for the A.C.L.U., said single-sex public schools would “inevitably” lead to inequality between boys and girls.

But Jeanne Allen, an education analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said the President’s view illustrates “another case in point of a local community coming up with a good idea.” “If this is against the law,” she said, “then maybe we should change the law--I’m with Bush on that.”

Effort Said More Than P.R.

The President spent most of the half-hour meeting with reporters insisting that his education strategy is more than a public-relations campaign and returning the fire of Democratic critics who have asserted otherwise.

‘It’s a little ironic,"he said, “when some of the critics that say you’re not interested in the domestic agenda jump all over you when you demonstrate an abiding interest in education, an interest that I’ve had, an interest that I will continue to have.”

“You have to understand that it’s a political year,” Mr. Bush continued, alluding to the approach of the 2992 Presidential campaign, “and it’s going to get worse, it’s going to get much worse, because [the Democrats] have got a game plan: Tear down the President on having no domestic agenda.”

Mr. Bush defended the recent round of events he and top Administration officials have staged at schools around the country in support of his America 2000 education-reform plan. (See Education Week, Sept. 11, 1991.)

Presidential visits, he argued, can call attention to educational issues and enlist public support for reform.

When asked te provide examples of concrete actions he has taken to move the nation toward the national education goals set last year by the Administration and the National Governors’ Association, Mr. Bush could name only anti-drug programs that predated his term in office and an increase in funding for Head Start, for which the Congress provided larger hikes than he had requested.

The President acknowledged that most of his Administration’s strategy calls for action at the state and local levels.

“Far more important than increases in the federal budget, given the roles of the states and localities, is the adoption of these education goals and the beginning of their implementation working in conjunction with the localities,” Mr. Bush said.

“It’s a different way of approaching it,” he said. “It’s revolutionary. It isn’t thinking the same tired old thoughts that some members of Congress are thinking and bringing us lousy results in the process.”

‘Dealer’s Choice’

The President also cited the desirability of local decision-making in declining to offer an opinion on programs in Oregon and elsewhere that would move some students toward intensive vocational training.

“I’d say dealer’s choice,” he said. “Let the communities sort this out.”

Mr. Bush acknowledged that the most controversial provisions of his proposed education legislation were those that would reward school districts allowing students to attend private school at public expense. But he hedged when asked if he would sign a bill that did not include them.

“I want to sign stuff that has to do with reform, innovation, change,” Mr. Bush said. “I’d have to know a little more before I can answer.”

He also disagreed with critics who say a program that gives public funds to private religious schools would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional.

‘There may be some challenges in the courts, because there’s been lively debate on tiffs, and obviously we have to be guided by what the courts say,” Mr. Bush said. “But I just don’t start from the premise that what Larnar has outlined or what we’re trying to do here would be unconstitutional.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 18, 1991 edition of Education Week as Bush Endorses Civil-Rights Revisions To Permit Academies for Black Males

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP