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Update on Cancellation of Civil Rights Group News Conference


Now we know why civil rights leaders suddenly cancelled today’s press conference at which they were going to talk about their new powerful framework for education reform, which includes a withering critique of the Obama administration’s education policies.

They met instead with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., head of the Rainbow PUSH coalition, said in an interview that he and other leaders felt that meeting with Duncan to discuss policy differences was “a better use of our time” than holding a public press conference.

Considering that most press conferences are a waste of time, Jackson makes a point.

But in this case, the postponement -- or, perhaps, cancellation -- left the impression among some that the civil rights leaders chose not to publicly criticize President Obama’s education policies any more than the framework already does.

The press conference was originally called for 10 a.m., which, it turned out, was exactly the time that the Duncan meeting started.

Jackson said Duncan listened as he and other civil rights leaders explained their concerns about ensuring equitable resources for each child and about how education reform should be part of a comprehensive urban renewal strategy that involves the Departments of Justice and Labor.

If quiet diplomacy can actually get Duncan to change some of his ill-conceived policies, then we can applaud this effort.

But if it doesn’t, it will be incumbent upon the civil rights leaders to shout to everyone who will listen that this administration is not doing what it must to ensure an equal education for every student.

They have to be as tough on a president that they like as they would be on a president that they don’t.