“It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.” -Thomas Sowell
Author Jason Riley writes in Maverick, the biography of Thomas Sowell, “His bold and unsentimental assaults on liberal orthodoxy have endured him to many but enraged most of his fellow intellectuals, the civil-rights establishment, and much of the mainstream media. As a result, his critics preoccupied with political correctness have demeaned, ignored, and downplayed his important contributions.” He puts truth above popularity and does not concern himself with being politically correct.
Thomas Sowell did not finish college until he was twenty-eight, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1968. He did not write his first book until the age of forty, but at this point, he has written more than thirty books. His last book was Charter Schools and Their Enemies, published in 2020.
Sowell’s writings include welfare economics, education, politics, history, race relations, and child development. He has been critical of elite intellectuals who impose their ideas on society through government overreach that gives too much decision-making to the government. Likewise, Robert L. Woodson believes that practical knowledge and common sense are found in American communities.
As an advocate of education, Sowell believes in equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. He has encouraged school boards not to look for new and improved methods to correct the education gap but to return to old fashion principles of discipline and work ethic. Most importantly, to encourage young black students to work harder and abandon the counterproductive notion that seeking educational excellence is “acting white.”
Charter schools and school vouchers give an equal opportunity to non-white youngsters. In Charter Schools and their Enemies, Sowell compares 100 individual public schools to their counterpart charter schools, located in the very same building, serving the very same community. The test scores show the charter schools performing at a proficiency rate several times over the other schools in the same building. Unfortunately, more than 50,000 students are on waiting lists in New York City to get into these schools, such as Success Academy and KIPP charter schools.
Sowell’s life events shaped his ideas and writings; from an orphan living under Jim Crow laws, service in the Korean War, and going to college on the G.I. Bill, this intellectual genius and free-market conservative’s work came down to his love and support of education.
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” -Thomas Sowell