Condoleeza Rice asserted in her speech to the Republican National Convention that education is the civil rights issue of our day. And the solution–music to GOP ears–is school choice. This echoes the findings of a report issued by a task force she co-chaired with Joel Klein, which said that US public education is a very grave threat to national security. (See my review of that report here.) And the solution: charters, vouchers, and the Common Core.

Rice was echoing Mitt Romney, who said in May that “education is the civil rights issue of our era” and the answer was school choice, including private and religious schools.

And Arne Duncan too has said that “education is the civil rights issue of our generation…”

This is quickly turning into one of those cliches that speakers trot out for every occasion. The only thing new is that it is now the battle-cry of the rightwing, who until now were not known as civil rights leaders.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear someone say that “eliminating poverty in America is the civil rights issue of our day?” Since poverty is the single most reliable predictor of poor performance in school, poor health, poor attendance, dropping out, and almost every negative indicator, wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear some of the politicians addressing the root cause of inequality?