Thomas Sowell, an economist and a conservative, was born in 1930—into poverty in South Carolina. After moving to Harlem with his mother at the age of 9, Mr. Sowell went to Stuyvesant—“a selective high school for smart kids,” according to Mr. Sowell in an interview published in the WSJ and conducted by Tunku Varadarajan, a fellow at the Hoover Institute.
Mr. Sowell—who went on to earn degrees from Harvard, Columbia and the University of Chicago before teaching at some of the country’s finest universities— has had a lifelong distaste for the “ideologues” who have come to run America’s schools.
The nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, and the possibility of promoting charter schools nationwide, so energized Mr. Sowell that he “briefly came out of retirement to write two columns in support—because I thought that this is a moment that might not come again in our lifetime, and I mean even the younger people’s lifetime. If we lose it now, we may have lost it forever.”
Mr. Sowell has what he calls “my reservations” about Donald Trump, but he gives the president credit for being “the first Republican who’s made any serious attempt to get the black vote by addressing problems that affect most blacks who are trying to do the right thing—such as education, which is such low-hanging fruit.” Republicans have “no reason whatever to be worried about teachers unions, because the teachers unions aren’t going to vote for them anyway,” he says. “They’re spending millions of dollars trying to get Democrats elected.”
But the good that can be done is obvious to Mr. Sowell. “The most successful schools for educating black kids have been a few charter schools,” he says. “There are literally tens of thousands of kids on waiting lists for charter schools in New York alone. You needed somebody who was going to fight to break through these caps that have been put on the number of charter schools.”
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