40 years of Loving — the changes we see

June 15, 2007

1968 propelled history in dramatic fashion, much of it tragic. History teachers might await the 40th anniversary stories of 1968’s events, knowing that the newspapers and television specials will provide much richer material than any textbook could hope for.

Was 1967 less momentous? Perhaps. But an anniversary this week only serves to highlight how the entire decade was a series of turning points for the United States. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s issuing the decision in Loving v. Virginia. The Lovings had been arrested, convicted and exiled from the state of Virginia for the crime of — brace yourself — getting married.

Richard and Mildred Loving, Bettman-Corbis Archive

Photo of Richard and Mildred Loving from Bettman-Corbis Archive.

You see, Virginia in those days prohibited marriage between a black person and a white person. So did 15 other states. In language that is quaint and archaic to all but Biblical literalist creationists, the trial judge said:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings appealed their conviction. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down laws that prohibit a person of one “race” from marrying a person of another. (I put “race” in quotes because, as we have since learned from DNA studies, there is just one race among us, the human race. Science verifies that the Supreme Court got it right, as did the Americans before them who wrote the laws upon which the Supreme Court’s decision was based.)

From 1958 to 1967 — nine years the case wended through the courts. Oral argument was had on April 10 — the decision coming down in just two months seems dramatically quick by today’s standards. This was one of the cases that angered so many Americans against the Court presided over by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from Culture Wars points to a statement from Mildred Loving on this anniversary. The statement is below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

For-profit Educate, Inc., goes private (Sylvan Learning, Hooked-on-Phonics)

June 15, 2007

Educate, Inc., the parent company of Sylvan Learning Centers, traded for the last time on the NASDAQ exchange yesterday.

No, the company didn’t go out of business. It was taken private by its management, after being a public company for three years. From the Baltimore Sun morning e-mail:

Educate becomes a private company

Educate Inc. has completed its transition into a private company, ending its three-year run on public markets.

Best known for its Sylvan tutoring centers, the Baltimore company, which was purchased in a management-led buyout, traded for the last time on the Nasdaq yesterday.

The investor group that purchased the company is led by chief executive officer R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric, other executives and affiliates of Sterling Capital Partners and Citigroup Private Equity. They paid $8 a share for the company in the deal valued at $535 million.

The company announced this week that more than 75 percent of shareholders approved the deal, which came as the firm has struggled with poor product sales.

Internal reorganization was swift.  The company’s website carried this note this morning:

On June 13, 2007, through a merger transaction, Edge Acquisition, LLC became the owner of Educate, Inc. In a related series of simultaneous transactions, the companies which were part of Educate, Inc. have been split into the following independent companies:

  • Educate Services, which includes Sylvan Learning, Catapult Learning, and Schulerhilfe;
  • Hooked on Phonics, Inc., which includes Hooked on Phonics, Reading Rainbow, and GPN;
  • Educate Online, Inc., which includes Catapult Online and eSylvan;
  • Progressus, Inc.; and
  • Educate Corporate Centers Holdings, Inc., which is a franchisee of various Sylvan Learning and owner of Sylvan Learning Centers.

The companies are now operating independently to better serve students, families and schools across the country. To learn more about the merger and related transactions, click here.

Making a profit delivering education is rare.  Milton Friedman notwithstanding, free market rules do not apply to educational enterprises in the same way they do to other services.  This is one more example, or set of examples, that should give pause to any rational person considering making public schools “compete” for money to improve education for any child, especially any group of children.  Sylvan Learning Centers are considered to be the top of the heap in their niche; Hooked-on-Phonics is a cliché success story.  And they “struggle with poor product sales.”

I hope the company finds the education answers, the magic bullets, and can retail them at affordable prices.

The answer, by the way, probably is not 42.

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