Condeleeza Rice's selection for Secretary of State has got to be eating a lot of Democrats up. Sure, they can say she's an evil Hitler wannabe, an Uncle Tom, or whatever they like, but it has to bother them. The first Black female Secretary of State, and she was selected by Bush, replacing the black man who left the position. It's not a surprise, of course, but it's gotta sting. Bush doesn't even believe in Affirmative Action, yet he has the most diverse cabinet ever, just picked Alberto Gonzales, a Hispanic, for Attorney General, and Clarence Thomas looks like he has a good chance to be chosen for Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court.
If I were a Democrat, I'd be pissed. Democrats talk about diversity, but the Republicans - no, not the Republicans, Bush - actually does something about it, while managing to choose minorities who are highly qualified, and who, no small detail, support most of his positions. They are not, no matter how much some may wish it were true, sellouts. They are powerful people who happen to be minorities.
Oooh, I'd be so pissed.
As it is, I'm pissed - if Condi had been a Democrat, her selection would be a big deal. She's not, so it doesn't matter. She's a Bushbot, not a strong black woman.
This is why I'm a non-partisan. No, I don't think we should be acting like it's so amazing that a minority, a female, no less, holds the third-highest position in America. But, look, when Barak Obama, whom I like a lot, spoke at the Democtratic Convention, it was all about how great the Dems were for having such a strong, intelligent, BLACK man on their side. Obama, there's a black person. Powell and Rice, not so much.
Something struck me during the debates about Bush's anti-Affirmative Action stance:
If No Child Left Behind succeeds, low income (specifically black and hispanic) students will enter high school on an even level with white and Asian students. Which will allow them to compete on the same level as white and Asian students when entering college. Which will allow them to compete for jobs on the same level, without needing racial preferences (just as Asian students, as a rule, do not need racial preferences to get into college or get jobs).
It's a very idealistic idea - Bush is an idealistic President - but no one has come up with a better plan to help poor minorities pull themselves up and become successful, and Affirmative Action can only go so far. It's not really helping the poorest minorities, but gives more middle class minorities an edge - an edge they already have by being middle class.
NCLB isn't perfect. In fact, I have a lot of issues with it in theory, especially when it comes to the excessive testing. I don't like the idea that teachers have to teach to a test in order to get a desired ranking for their school. But I'll tell you what: here in Wilmington, with a large black population, public schools are showing improvements academically, sometimes exceeding the private schools. If minority public school kids are excelling in elementary school (and they are, by and large, not least of all in the predominantly black, achievement-oriented Charter Schools in the city) and continue of the same path through high school, they'll be competing against rich white kids on their own merits.
That will be the test - where will these kids be in high school? When I was in high school in the '80s, the vast majority of black students were separated into special (non college bound) classes and schools (I was not, but I come from a middle class family). I never quite understood that - we were all together in Middle School, taking the same classes. Most of my black and Hispanic friends, all intelligent, went to Tech high school instead of regular high school, because, they said, they could go directly into the workforce after high school. That's important, when college seems impossibly expensive. But I also, in retrospect, wondered if they worried that they'd be segregated in regular high school, left to flounder. At least at Tech, they had a chance.
(There is nothing wrong with technical high schools, by the way. I don't believe that every student should go to college - there are many good trades that don't require a college degree, and many people choose these trades because it's what they want to do. That's a good thing. But if a kid aspires to have a job that requires a degree but doesn't think they have a chance of being put into college prep courses in high school, that's a problem.)
If black and Hispanic kids, because of the strict standards they had to meet, no excuses, in Elementary and Middle School, are meeting or exceeding the achievements of their white peers, they will, theoretically, be put in the same college-bound classes in high school. If they achieve or exceed there, we are looking at the beginning of real equality.
Idealistic, yes, but it's a powerful idea. If it works, it will do more for equality that Affirmative Action ever could. Hoo- boy, if I were a Democrat and I figured that out, I'd be pissed.